About Ascender


Program Highlights

  • Community building & interdisciplinary learning
  • Increased academic success & student potential
  • Students save time and money as they complete degrees
  • Increased graduation and transfer rates
  • Students register for classes as part of a cohort

The Ascender Program provides academic, emotional-social, and community support for underserved community college students to increase the number of students who successfully complete developmental coursework, increase the number of students who successfully complete first-year college-level coursework in gatekeeper courses such as English and Math, and increase the number of students who graduate from the community college and transfer to a four-year college or university.

What happens in the program?

The Ascender Program provides a holistic approach to student success, offering various options to suit the needs of the individual institution. CTN’s pathway innovation is in our focused literacy-based approach across disciplines and a commitment to student validation and cultural relevance. The Ascender model balances academic rigor with empathy to cultivate a sense of belonging in the college and community in addition to engagement with critical inquiry. Successful components of Ascender include:

  • Advising and Counseling support from recruitment and enrollment through graduation.
  • A cohort model
  • Learning communities (linked courses)
  • Block scheduling
  • Culturally-relevant curriculum (contextualization)
  • Community mentoring
  • Student leadership club (peer mentoring)
  • On campus events and field trips focusing on transfer
  • Family involvement and engagement
  • Adapted approaches (from the lowest level of developmental education to graduate and professional programs)

The Ascender Program has many components but at its core is literacy. Literacy enables students to master English classes in college. But that is only the beginning. Literacy is also essential for courses in every other discipline of study. The ability to read at a high level of comprehension, and write well-crafted papers, is critical for success in everything from health sciences to manufacturing and industrial work to STEM careers. The Catch the Next Ascender Program builds literacy skills to create a pathway through higher education. As we scale up the project in Texas, we are empowering students to succeed in whatever degree they select, and in whatever career they choose.

The CTN Ascender Program provides extensive initial and ongoing professional development to college instructors and counselors who have been selected to implement the Ascender program on their campuses. These specially trained teams provide students with the following:

  1. An accelerated writing course sequence that incorporates culturally relevant materials and pedagogical approaches that validate students’ experiences, backgrounds, and communities.
  2. Wrap-around student supports services, including counseling and advising, that provides students with sustained, in-depth, career and academic guidance throughout their enrollment at the
  3. Mentoring by members of the professional community who are recruited, trained, and matched with students to share with them career advice and their personal experiences of integrating culture and family with academic and professional
  4. Student Leadership Development through the Ascender student organization.
Can I join Ascender?

Do you qualify to be a part of Ascender Learning Communities?

If you will be a new student at San Antonio College and it will be your first time attending college, please contact one of the Ascender Advisors.

For more information, contact:

Marissa Pollok
Grant Program Coordinator

Student Internship Opportunities

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Please share!

Catch the Next Ascender Program Student Engagement
The student engagement component of the CTN program addresses the need to focus on student retention and job skills. CTN knows that the quality and quantity of the student engagement component of our program will directly relate to our students’ retention and success. Our internships focus on the following areas: motivation and support, job preparedness, job training, skill building, and career counseling.

John Siceloff Journalism Internship
The Catch the Next John Siceloff journalism internship was created to honor Catch the Next’s founder, a renowned and award-winning journalist. The primary goal of the paid internship is to provide an opportunity for students to gain professional experience while increasing their marketable skills. Interns have the opportunity to enhance their skills of oral and written communication and apply acquired knowledge to real work experiences. In addition to learning the specialized skills of journalistic writing, many transferable and marketable job skills such as teamwork, the responsibility of meeting deadlines, checking sources, organization of materials, and time management are also obtained in this internship. Interns can expect to use these skills in most any chosen field, helping to prepare them to enter the workforce upon graduation.

Every year, an intern is selected from each of Catch the Next’s 11 campuses to be mentored by journalists in a series of professional development sessions that hone their writing and research skills. The 2019-2020 cohort was mentored by Pulitzer-Prize winner Julia Preston, former national correspondent for the New York Times.

As members of the CTN communication team, interns play a vital role in disseminating information about CTN events and achievements on their campuses. In addition, to encourage interns to add their creativity to the communication team, they are asked to submit their ideas for articles.

Please reach out to me Dr. Joan Jaimes jjaimes23@alamo.edu if you have questions.

Are you ready to apply? Here's the application and more details:


Catch the Next

About Catch The Next

Catch the Next, Inc. (CTN) is a national, award-winning college readiness and completion organization committed to increasing equitable outcomes in higher education. The CTN mission is to empower faculty, staff, and institutions to increase the educational attainment of underserved communities in order to close higher education equity and achievement gaps. At San Antonio College, Ascender Learning Communities (ALC) courses enhance the student experience with support, learning opportunities, and motivation needed to complete a degree.



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