CCPS pilots program for seniors to learn college application process

CCPS pilots program for seniors to learn college application process

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is piloting the Maryland College Application Campaign Week next month to assist high-school seniors in applying to college, with the goal of each student submitting at least one application to the college, university or technical school. During the week of Oct. 19-23, seniors at several Charles County high schools will participate in the campaign by working with school staff and volunteers during the school day to submit a complete college application.

In 2014, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) piloted the campaign in 21 high schools with more than 1,900 students participating statewide. While the campaign targets all high school seniors, activities focus on educating first generation and low-income students in how to successfully research and complete the college application process. According to Alicia Jones, supervising school counselor for CCPS, some students do not complete college applications because they do not know how to complete or event start the process. “Our goal for this campaign is for every graduating senior to complete at least one college application. We will teach them how to step-by-step and walk them through the process,” she said.

To prepare for the campaign, high school English teachers have been working with students to complete essential parts of most college applications, including a written essay, resume and letters of recommendation. This year’s senior class of students worked on a college fit/application worksheet as juniors last school year as part of a required English III graded assignment. As part of the assignment, students researched four possible colleges, universities or trades schools they were interested in learning more about. Part of the worksheet also required students to list their extracurricular activities and test scores in preparation for including this information on an application.

Most colleges and universities charge prospective students a fee to submit an application, but many community colleges such as the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) offer free applications. As part of the campaign, CSM admissions staff will attend each participating school Oct. 19-23 to work with students on completing a free CSM application. Staff from CSM visit high schools annually to talk to students about local offerings, and most students complete a CSM placement test as juniors. Seniors who apply to CSM during Maryland College Application Week will already have test scores on file as part of their application.

Schools participating in the CCPS pilot program are Henry E. Lackey, La Plata, Maurice J. McDonough, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools. College and career advisors at these schools are coordinating activities to highlight the upcoming campaign and are helping to connect students with resources to learn more about applying to college and planning for their future after graduation. These activities include a focus on the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and helping students collect the data needed to complete a FAFSA. Results from a student’s FAFSA help colleges and universities determine amounts of financial assistance or scholarship opportunities.

Students may qualify for application waivers and/or SAT/ACT exam waivers through CSM’s Educational Talent Search (ETS) program. This program is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education and supports Charles County community members ages 11-27 in their search to access higher education opportunities.  Eligibility is based on criteria such as family income, age, and if the participant is a first-generation college student, secondary school dropout or veteran. The ETS program also provides academic, personal and peer counseling, assistance with college orientation and tours, tutoring resources, SAT/ACT preparation courses and career orientation activities. Students interested in finding out if they are eligible for support through the ETS program can call 301-934-2251 to request an eligibility application.

A copy of the college fit/application worksheet, as well as a list of application fees for Maryland schools, is posted on the CCPS website at High schools will also be hosting financial aid workshops later this school year to walk students and parents through the process of researching aid, completing scholarship applications and the FAFSA. For more information, contact Alicia Jones at or call the college and career advisor at your child’s school.

Jones will be featured on an upcoming edition of Comcast Newsmakers to discuss the Maryland College Application Campaign Week and the school system’s participation in the program. Check your cable provider to see which channel features the show.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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