A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
A local Wofford graduate puts his liberal arts degree to good use.
Rob Welborn ’07 and SC Test Prep helped Patricia Orozco prepare for the SAT. Welborn also helped her narrow her college choices and edit her admission essay. The result… Orozco begins at Wofford in the fall with a full scholarship as a Bonner Scholar. She plans to become a physician and return to Spartanburg to provide health care for the Hispanic community.
Welborn tells similar stories about other first-generation college students like Orozco whose improved educational opportunities will change the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their families. “Test scores are only good to get students into the school that’s best for them by helping meet requirements and helping earn merit-based scholarships,” says Welborn. “Unfortunately, many students haven’t been taught how to demonstrate what they’re capable of doing on these standardized tests.”
Welborn, communications director and educational consultant for SC Test Prep, and Executive Director Derrick Smith aren’t just teaching students “tricks” to help them boost their test scores. “The SAT and ACT remind me of logic games I played in my elementary school gifted and talented program. They reward critical thinking. That’s what we do at SC Test Prep; we teach students how to demonstrate their critical thinking skills within the limited application of standardized tests,” says Welborn.
In addition, SC Test Prep helps students navigate the college admission and financial aid process as well as develop a strong transcript and extracurricular resume. They are not the only group out there offering these services, but SC Test Prep is different because of its nonprofit status.
According to Welborn, whether real or perceived, the racial or socio-economic bias in standardized testing has become increasingly problematic with recent studies showing that only 5 percent of African-American test-takers met the ACT benchmark in all four subject areas.
“How must it feel to be a high school student, particularly a minority student, to hear this news and to know, before you ever submit an application, that you are statistically unlikely to be considered prepared for college or even capable of earning a score necessary for admission?” says Welborn.
SC Test Prep exists to prepare South Carolina’s diverse students, families and schools — not just the ones who can comfortably afford it — for success in undergraduate admission and scholarships. The Spartanburg County Foundation’s Citizen Scholars program contracted with SC Test Prep to do college planning and test preparation classes for their high school-aged scholars. The classes were held on Wofford’s campus. SC Test Prep and The Space in the Mungo Center at Wofford also will partner on internship opportunities beginning in the fall.
“Because we’re a start-up, we can offer a Wofford student a variety of experiences,” says Welborn. “They’ll be wearing lots of hats and learning on the job how to do their job. Their liberal arts background will be a huge asset.”
In addition, Welborn is working with Wofford to offer service-learning opportunities for Wofford students to work with SC Test Prep to provide additional tutoring and mentoring to local middle and high school students.
Welborn majored in religion with a minor in philosophy at Wofford. He then earned a master of theological studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. His thesis was on the role of religious communities in improving higher education opportunities for youth. Welborn has worked in college admission for Wofford, Emory and Georgia State University. He is an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, as well as a member of the National and Southern Associations for College Admission Counseling. He brings a liberal arts education, his experience in admissions, and a passion for helping others to every class and every student he teaches and counsels.
Orozco says raising her SAT score was the first step toward college and eventually medical school. “My scores went up more than 100 points,” she says. “My parents are extremely proud of me. They see in me what they weren’t able to do. Going to Wofford is a great accomplishment for me and my family.”
By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89