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Last updated January 18, 2024

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What is a CBO for College Admissions?

Key Takeaway

CBOs are nonprofit organizations that support students through the college admissions process. They provide guidance, resources, and networking opportunities, making them a valuable tool for college applicants.

Navigating college admissions isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have much support at home or if you’re the first in your family to go to college.

That’s where Community-Based Organizations, also known as CBOs, can help.

CBOs come in lots of shapes and sizes, but there is a particular category of CBOs that focuses on college admissions. These organizations support students from different backgrounds through the college admissions process. They often have mentors who can guide your course selection, college list building, and application creation.

In this post, I’ll give you the rundown on CBOs and tell you how to find one you might be eligible for.

What is a CBO?

CBOs are nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving their communities. In the realm of college admissions, CBOs often operate within schools or partner with academic institutions to provide free educational resources for students.

They supplement the services provided by less-resourced high schools by giving students an extra support system through the process. Overall, CBOs can be a vital resource for many college applicants.

What kinds of CBOs are there?

There's a range of college-focused CBOs out there, and each kind caters to specific needs.

Organizations like College Possible and different kinds of TRIO programs can operate directly within high schools to bridge the gap between students, school counselors, and colleges.

Others collaborate closely with universities, like the University of Washington Upward Bound program, serving as a link between the college and high school environment.

Some CBOs go throughout the academic year, but some also offer intensive summer programs to help you develop certain skills, like research, over the summer.

Other CBOs even cater to particular disciplines. For example, the STEM Upward Bound program at the University of Washington is tailored to students with an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Who can participate in CBOs?

Typically, CBOs target students who lack comprehensive resources for the college admissions process. If your school's college counseling program isn't robust, or if your school meets certain criteria, you may have access to a CBO.

Other CBOs focus on students from low-income households or first-generation college students. Minds Matter - Philadelphia, for example, is open to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and have a GPA of at least 3.0.

Not sure whether you have access to one? Ask your school counselor if your school or area has a CBO that helps students applying to college.

Why should you participate in a CBO?

The most evident benefit of a CBO is the guidance they provide through the college admissions process.

But there's another less obvious, yet crucial, aspect to consider: CBOs offer the chance to connect directly with admissions officers.

CBOs might invite admissions officers to speak, they might take you to a college fair or on a college tour, or you might get a special Zoom presentation from a particular school. Engaging with a CBO can show your initiative and commitment to furthering your education, which can leave a lasting impact on admissions officers.

So, if the opportunity to engage with a CBO arises, you should take advantage of it. CBOs are not only a powerful tool for your college application journey, but they can also open doors to networking opportunities and valuable connections with admissions officers.


CBOs are nonprofit organizations that help students in the college admissions process, often working in less-resourced high schools. They exist in various types, some working directly in schools, others teaming up with universities, and even ones specific to certain disciplines. Eligibility for CBOs varies, so be sure to research the ones near you. Involvement in a CBO offers not only valuable guidance and resources for college applications, but also unique opportunities to connect with admissions officers. If you get the chance to join a CBO, you should consider taking it.

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