High Potential Program

Saint Mary’s College has a fundamental mission to provide access to education for dedicated students from traditionally underrepresented groups in higher education. The High Potential (HP) program is designed not only to provide that access, but to foster student success by drawing on the strengths and resiliency of first generation and/or low-income scholars and leaders as they transition from high school to college. High Potential Coaches, Staff and Peer Mentors work together with HP students to develop their academic and leadership skills and connect them to the college community. The program provides a continuum of support for approximately 160 students from just prior to the first year of college through the completion of their baccalaureate degrees.


Students who meet all of the following requirements are eligible to participate in HP:

  • First generation college student and/or low-income individual

    • What Defines Low Income?

    • If neither of your parents has obtained a bachelor’s degree from an institution of higher education in the United States, you qualify as first generation

  • Enrolled at Saint Mary’s College or accepted for enrollment in the next academic term

Program Components:

The HP program provides a range of services and supports:

Summer Academic Institute for Leaders and Scholars (SAILS) – an intensive summer residential program for incoming first-year students, includes earning units toward graduation and an opportunity to meet professors, coaches, peers, and peer mentors. The activities and classes focus on academic, psychosocial and cultural development. This component of our program is in high demand and space is limited. It is not a requirement for students to participate in SAILS for you to be eligible for the academic year programming.

Peer Mentor Program – student mentors offer academic, personal, and professional support beginning in the SAILS Program and continuing throughout the students’ first year at Saint Mary’s.  Students who will be entering their second, third, and fourth year are invited to apply to this paid leadership position.

Success Coaching – in addition to meeting with their faculty advisor, HP students meet regularly with a dedicated HP Coach for frequent and focused individualized coaching to help ensure steady progress toward academic, social, and personal goals.

HP First Year Advising Cohort – HP students enroll in HP FYAC, a partial credit course for both fall and spring semesters of their first year. This course, taught by student’s faculty advisor, provides academic support and guidance to set a solid foundation for high academic and personal achievement. Faculty assist students with essential academic skills such as time management, study habits, using campus resources effectively, and tracking self-progress. Students who join HP after their first year are not required to participate in FYAC.

Financial Support - Students that demonstrate financial need are eligible for grant aid of up to $3,000 per year. Students must be Federal Pell Grant eligible and this award amount is subject to change depending on the students' financial circumstances. This scholarship money is renewable as long as students remain in good academic standing and are taking advantage of all required HP supports.

HPSS, a TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program is partially-funded by a federal grant ($242,133 per year from 2015-2020) from the U.S. Department of Education