In this day and age, earning scholarships and getting into selective universities has been more difficult than ever. This competitiveness has not been a barrier for Culver City High School senior Noah Tyau, who through the Posse Foundation has received a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Middlebury College.
The Posse program identifies gifted high school seniors with academic and leadership potential who may be missed by top colleges in the traditional admissions process. From a highly competitive slate of applicants, Posse selects groups of 10 students to earn scholarships from each college the foundation partners with, upon which they will undergo leadership training and engage in team-building workshops.
The idea is that by creating this strong connection before heading off to college, students selected to these “Posses” can support and help each other succeed once they get there, something evidenced by the 90% graduation rate of scholars.
Nominated by social studies teacher Mrs. Rebekah Kinsella and athletic director Tom Salter from CCHS, Tyau was one of 20 students selected to advance to the Dynamic Assessment Process from the approximately 50 nominated by CCHS staff.
Consisting of group and individual interviews, the DAP is a three-part process used to determine the students who will earn the Posse scholarship. In a large group interview, Tyau and other students discussed real-world topics such as standardized testing, beauty standards, diversity and tradition.
Students were then asked to write a timed essay on a social or political issue that they were passionate about. Upon reaching the semifinalist stage, students engaged in individual interviews focusing on their personal life and unique aspects of their application.
Upon advancing past these rounds, Tyau became a finalist for Middlebury, his first choice out of a set of three options that also included Northwestern and Dickinson. Tyau was allowed to choose these universities out of the ten that Posse LA partners with, which also include colleges such as Bucknell, Tulane and Pepperdine.
“I came to the consensus that I would want an education in a smaller setting since I value when I have that extra attention from my professors,” Tyau said. “I also really appreciated the way that they [Middlebury] were handling COVID [as] the majority of all of their kids went back last semester in fall 2020.”
Tyau was the only CCHS student to make it past the final round, upon which he ultimately became a Posse scholar and was paired with nine other students who will also attend Middlebury College. Tyau says that he has only known his fellow Posse scholars for a few months as of now, yet has already formed deep connections with them that will last as they support each other throughout their time in college.
“I really love my Posse,” Tyau said. “Everyone brings something really special in adding to the group dynamic.”
After the end of the DAP process in December of students’ senior year, Posse scholars engage in Pre-Collegiate Training for the next eight months, where they will meet weekly with their peers and staff to engage in workshops that address team building. group support, cross-cultural communication, leadership and academic excellence. By also discussing social issues such as those revolving around religion, race and gender, Posse scholars like Tyau grow and develop as leaders through PCT.
“It’s been beneficial to me because I’ve gotten to understand the other people’s perspectives on those issues,” Tyau said. “I’ve grown in that.”
Once students head off to college, not only do they receive support from their fellow Posse scholars and take on what they learned from PCT but also access numerous other benefits. As undergraduate students, Posse scholars are connected to an academic advisor who will act as a mentor throughout their four years.
Most importantly, these students are provided with connections to Posse alumni and are given the opportunities to earn scholarships to top graduate schools and land careers in a variety of industries.
Over the years, scholarships such as Posse have been extremely beneficial in helping students achieve their full academic potential and career goals. While Tyau has yet to receive the full benefits of his scholarship, his short time as a Posse scholar has already taught him one vital lesson that he hopes can resonate with others.
“What Posse has taught me is to value the opportunities and what I can get out of a college education beyond just the name of the school,” Tyau said. “My advice would just be to be open and really analyze if you’ll be happy at that school.”