In 2006, Nathan Tonlaar, a Calvin student from Ghana, was reading a bulletin board when he spotted a flyer offering coaching for the American College Test (ACT).
The ACT is one of two tests high school students can take to show their college readiness. “The cost was hefty, and [Tonlaar] had the idea that anybody should receive assistance for the ACT,” said Tasha Cruz, Calvin’s director of pre-college programs.
Tonlaar worked through Calvin’s Service-Learning Center to set up an ACT test prep program with Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Mich.
He recruited students from various departments to tutor the Ottawa Hills students, familiarizing them with the ACT and with the general college application process.
Tonlaar’s program continues in the form of Excel, a five-week ACT test prep program sponsored by Calvin’s department of pre-college programs.
Currently 33 students from Grand Rapids-area high schools participate in the program.
Twenty-two tutors from a range of disciplines are paired with students based on the test subjects they want to work on.
The pairs meet once a week. “They’re going over some of the questions that are in the ACT,” Cruz said, “but they’re also helping them with problem-solving skills.”
For serving as Excel tutors, Calvin students earn Cross Cultural Engagement (CCE) credit necessary for graduation.