The transition from high school to college is a difficult time for many young women. As the school year begins, college freshmen face the loss of their day-to-day support network of parents, teachers, friends, neighbors and siblings. College is the first time many students need to manage their own time, money, health, housing, meals and coursework. The demands of this pivotal period come at a vulnerable age when students may be reluctant to ask for help because they don't want to appear incapable or out of place.

Women who struggle with this transition often end up dropping out after their first or second semester. Once they withdraw, they not only feel the consequences and stigma of having dropped out, but they could also be strapped with student loan debt.


Providing women with social support and increasing their self-confidence could go a long way toward keeping them enrolled through the tough first year. To that end, we've made a grant to Building Brave, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women, to develop an online support community called College Confidence. A component of Building Brave's robust mobile app, the College Confidence community aims to help first-year female students overcome the challenges of transitioning into the college environment with inspiring content and interactive support.

Content for the College Confidence community will be informed by scientific research and reviewed by an advisory board of psychologists, life coaches and subject matter experts. Using proven techniques drawn from best practices in gaming and social communities, interactive content will help students overcome day-to-day challenges. Over time, young women will gain confidence to tackle more difficult life challenges by interacting with the community and earning points and badges as they reach new levels of achievement.

This project will complement other support tools aimed at fulfilling Great Lakes' mission to keep students enrolled and on track to graduation. As of August 2018, more than 800 members have joined the College Life mobile community. Building Brave is also recruiting college ambassadors from their existing base of over 85,000 Facebook and Instagram followers to spread the word. We look forward to watching the College Life community continue to grow, and hope it will help more college freshman women confidently navigate the challenges of that first year.


Contact Director of Education Grantmaking Rebecca Villarreal at