College Bound Determination founder, Carol Ben-Davis, is a first-generation American born to Sierra Leonean parents who arrived in the US in the ’70s. Being raised by Africans the importance of education and the desire to make them proud was instilled in her from a young age. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Carol was admitted into Loyola University, Chicago for her graduate program. Prior to that, Carol worked at the black cultural center and subsequently at the office of undergraduate admissions at UNC Chapel Hill. It was there while doing her practicum in the Dean’s office that she met someone from Bowling Green University who encouraged her to go to graduate school to learn how to work in universities.
Being very passionate about working on campus in administration work and helping with visiting families, Carol realized what her calling was – helping students and families navigate through unfamiliar terrains. Her career has given her the opportunity to steer and counsel college students in the right direction.
College Bound Determination was created to meet the needs of college students, as well as close the gaps between “breakthroughs” and “breakdowns”. While many college resources focus on providing information on housing, finance, and administration, little or no guidance is given on transitioning smoothly from high school to college.
Carol’s business is focused on building successful students through the involvement of their families on their academic journeys. Carol strongly believes that college opens the door to self-discovery. Her not-so-pleasant experiences as a black kid during middle and high school in North Carolina where she struggled with her identity and later her involvement in college with kids that looked like her, had similar cultural backgrounds helped propel her to start her business. She shares her positive thoughts about college and what it offers – opportunities to grow, meet people different from you and learn from them.
Carol is also passionate about educating parents and families about the nitty-gritty of collegian life and believes that conversations about identity crises, educational struggles, and social, financial, spiritual, and emotional problems are important. While many parents struggle to accept the inevitability of the uncertainties and complexities that come with college life, she emphasizes the need for parents to be open-minded to the possibility of things not panning out as they had anticipated.
She also highlights the need for parents (especially immigrant parents) to be more accepting of their children’s career choices, being open to having meaningful conversations with them, and support their decisions as individuals with the right of autonomy.
Finally Carol encourages students with immigrant parents as well as international students to venture out of their comfort zones; seeking out new experiences with people from different cultures during their time in college.