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Invisible No More: How Advising Programs Are Bringing Top Talent to Top Colleges

Like many promising students from modest backgrounds, Nolan Arkansas started his college search with a major barrier: He was unaware of all of his options and undervalued his own potential.

Arkansas grew up on a Cherokee reservation in North Carolina, earning mostly A’s in school and developing some fluency in his tribal language. He figured he was bound for a public university in his home state or just across the border at the University of Tennessee. Elite private schools seemed inconceivable.

But a growing movement of nonprofit talent hunters and advisers is seeking to raise the ambitions of disadvantaged students and connect them with premier colleges, attacking a widespread problem researchers call “undermatching.”