CollegeFirst trains college and graduate students to help implement a Summer Advanced Placement Institute for high school students enrolled in AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, and AP English Language. CollegeFirst believes that all willing and academically motivated students deserve the opportunity to succeed in rigorous, college-level experiences and the advantages they bring.

CollegeFirst Accomplishments
In June 2013, CollegeFirst hosted its fourth annual Summer Advanced Placement Institute for 300+ high school students in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa. More than 60 college student mentors led these students through three weeks of intensive lessons to better prepare them for AP Calculus, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP English Language in the upcoming school year. Impact would like to thank Wells Fargo for its sponsorship of CollegeFirst.

How to Apply

High school students interested in participating in the 2014 CollegeFirst Institute should be enrolled in an AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, or AP English Language course in the fall of 2014. The 2014 Institute begins June 9th and concludes June 26th.

High school students interested in participating in CollegeFirst should apply at these links:

Birmingham CollegeFirst AP Institute

Huntsville CollegeFirst AP Institute

Tuscaloosa CollegeFirst AP Institute

College students interested in serving as AP mentors must have received a grade of a B or higher in an introductory level or advanced-level college course in their subject of interest.  A professor recommendation detailing the student’s aptitude will be accepted in lieu of this requirement.

CollegeFirst Mentor Application

CollegeFirst Mission
CollegeFirst is a partnership with A+ College Ready, a collaborative initiative committed to expanding and strengthening math and science Advanced Placement (AP) programs in Alabama.  A+ College Ready and CollegeFirst play integral roles in responding to the declining stature of Alabama students in national and global competitiveness in math and science by heightening expectations of Alabama high school students, challenging them to cultivate their skills and abilities, and exposing them to the content knowledge they will need to succeed in college.

The CollegeFirst Summer Advanced Placement Institute partners college students and Impact Alabama staff members with high school students for three weeks of tutoring and mentoring during the month of June. Guided by college mentors, high school students will spend three weeks preparing for the AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, or AP English Language courses they will take in the fall.  High school students will experience college- level laboratory assignments and problem sets and will follow lesson plans prepared by highly qualified AP Teachers.

The Summer Academic Institute will be held at UAB, UAH, and UA. We invite students from A+ College Ready high schools in Birmingham City, Jefferson County, Huntsville City, Madison County, Tuscaloosa City, and Tuscaloosa County to participate in our three-week program.

Community Partners
Community partners include A+ College Ready, Laying the Foundation, the National Math and Science Initiative, high schools in six districts across Alabama, colleges and universities across the state, and the State Department of Education.  CollegeFirst offers summer instruction in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa.  AP teachers and A+ College Ready administrators provide consultation with Impact staff to ensure that all guidance provided by CollegeFirst students aligns with the needs of the teachers, students, and AP curriculum.


CollegeFirst is an AmeriCorps program and is funded, in part, through Serve Alabama, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service.  We love our State Commission!

The Need for CollegeFirst
AP Mentoring: U.S. education levels continue to fall in international rankings, dropping to 26th in math in 2006 (down from 20th in 2003) and to 20th in science in 2006 (down from 15th in 2003). This growing deficit results in an erosion of American competitiveness in the global economy (National Academies of Science).  Alabama consistently ranks below the national average in math and science achievement.  In 2007, Alabama ranked 42nd in the country in 8th grade science achievement and 50th in the country in 8th grade math achievement.  During these precarious economic times, Alabama high schools must be proactive in reversing this trend.

Advanced Placement courses enable motivated students to take college-level courses taught by teachers in their local high schools.  Through AP courses, talented and dedicated AP teachers help students develop and apply the skills, abilities, and content knowledge they will need to succeed in college.  Each AP course is modeled upon a comparable college course, and college and university faculty play a vital role in ensuring that AP courses align with college-level standards.  AP courses culminate in a suite of college-level assessments developed and scored by college and university faculty as well as experienced AP teachers (College Board 2009).

Research has consistently shown that students passing AP exams are three times more likely to earn a college degree than students who do not pass (College Board 2009).  Six-year college graduation rates rise from 15 percent for African-American and Hispanic students to 60 percent or higher if they have passed at least one AP exam (National Center for Educational Accountability).  Moreover, students enrolled in AP courses are internationally competitive.  While the average U.S. student ranks below the international mean on the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), students who receive a passing score on the AP Calculus and Physics exams rank first in the world in advanced math and science.  Even those students simply enrolled in AP Calculus and Physics courses, receiving less than a passing score on the AP exam, were bested only by students from the top three nations in the world.

Recognizing the relationship between enrollment in AP courses and success in college, it is vital that Alabama’s high schools capitalize on this knowledge and increase the number of students able to participate in AP.  However, in 2008, in math, science and English, Alabama ranked 43rd nationally in AP exams taken and 45th in exams passed (College Board).  While 15.2 percent of America’s public school graduating class of 2008 received a passing score on an AP exam (25 percent took at least one AP exam), just 6.8 percent of Alabama’s public school graduating class of 2008 received a passing score on an AP exam (13.5 percent took at least one AP exam) (College Board).  African-American students represent 34 percent of the Alabama public school graduating class of 2008, yet only 2.3 percent passed an AP exam in 2008 (Nationally, African- American students make up 14 percent of the overall student population and 3.3 percent of those receiving a passing score on AP exams.) (College Board).

Summer Programming: Academic studies have consistently shown that all young people – but especially those from low-income families – experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer (Cooper, Nye, Charleton, Lindsay, & Greathouse, 1996).  Student achievement for both middle and low-income students improves at similar rates during the school year.  During the summer, however, low-income youth experience cumulative summer learning losses contributing to a widening of the achievement gap over the course of several years (Alexander & Entwisel, 2002).  On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months, regardless of income level (Cooper et al.).  Low-income youth, however, experience far greater summer learning losses than their higher-income peers.  On average, middle-income students experience slight gains in reading performance over the summer months.  Low-income students, however, experience an average of a two month loss in reading achievement (Cooper et al.).

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