CBO welcomes first-generation students


An illustration of a graduation cap with the words “Proud to be first.”

CBO, short for College Bound Opportunities, is an organization that aims to help first-generation college students or students who believe they would benefit from extra help during their college process. As of this year, CBO has come to VHHS.

According to Ms. Bellito, the CRC counselor, VHHS has been looking for a college-prep program for the past two years, since they were aware that many students would benefit from the services they provide.

“We were looking to partner with them, and there is an application process, and they were looking to add two or more schools…and we were lucky to be selected,” Ms. Bellito said. “[CBO is] really just looking for strong students who are very motivated and want to go to college,” Mr. Michael West, CBO’s college outreach admin, said.

CBO is a sponsor-funded organization for all of their school partnerships. It has been around for 13 years, with students in other schools including Buffalo Grove, Cristo Rey, Highland Park and Lake Forest.

CBO provides all of its students a personal mentor for general support, check-ins with CBO admins every week, private ACT/SAT tutoring, and financial support for college tuition.

“I chose to apply since I’m a first-generation college student, and my parents don’t know much about the college search process…I knew I could benefit from the extra help,” Jackie Morales (11), a CBO student, said.

According to West, what sets CBO apart from other college-based organizations is their mentors, admins, and peers staying connected even after they graduate high school.

“We stay with our students for many years, even after they’re in college. We develop these relationships and a lot of our students end up working with CBO,” Mr. West said.

Students looking to join CBO can apply during their sophomore year with an application process very similar to what the college application process looks like. An application, teacher references, transcripts and tax forms are all required for the process.

As of now, there are seven students from VHHS who are involved with CBO.

“Anybody who is interested in the program, anyone who wants to better themselves, anybody that is seeking help, that is what we [CBO] appreciate the most,” West said.