Seniors learn ins and outs of college application process

Seniors learn ins and outs of college application process

For several Charles County high school seniors, participating in the College Application Week campaign during Oct. 19-23 was their first full experience with the college application process. From learning about financial aid and scholarships to researching which schools and programs they wanted to pursue, 1,302 seniors applied to at least one college, university or technical school of their choice. As part of the pilot program, volunteers ranging from retired Charles County Public Schools teachers and military members to staff from the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) visited participating high schools last week to help seniors finalize their selections and information, and submit their applications.

Seniors at Henry E. Lackey, La Plata, Maurice J. McDonough, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools worked with more than 60 volunteers during their English classes in computer labs and media centers to take part in the campaign, which was coordinated by each school’s college and career advisor. Janae Keys, a Lackey senior, completed an application to CSM and plans to study nursing. She said the campaign helped her prepare for completing the college application process and finding a good school. It was also Keys’ first experience in applying to college. “Everyone here at the school has been helpful,” Keys added. Lackey senior Demani Akinnagbe plans to study business and set a goal of becoming an entrepreneur. He also applied to CSM and said the process of researching his interests after graduation helped him to narrow his future goals.

To prepare seniors 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. Students also completed a college fit/application worksheet as a graded assignment which required them to research possible colleges, trades or career majors and gather information needed on most applications. Lackey senior Lauren Duckett said the campaign and tasks she completed leading up to her finalizing her application helped her ultimately decide where she wanted to apply and what career choice she wanted to pursue. “I am applying to Morgan State University and want to study nursing. I am going to tour the school in two weeks to check out campus life. I have really been researching the school and need to feel comfortable where I plan to be for a while. I plan to go into pediatric nursing and hopefully work at a children’s hospital,” Duckett said.

Richard Scott is the supervisor of school counseling for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and statewide coordinator of the Maryland College Application Week Campaign. He visited with several schools across Maryland last week, including Stone, and said the excitement and enthusiasm of students helped to validate the goals of the campaign. “Watching the students engaging in the process and helping students fill out their college applications was quite a treat for me. It was very impressive to see the diversity of the volunteers and school visitors,” Scott said.

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 even start the process. Jones said the goal for the CCPS campaign was for every graduating senior at the participating schools to complete at least one college application and that the school system met that goal. She plans to meet with the college and career advisors at each participating high school to talk about the campaign and plan for future financial aid nights.

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 MSDE, more than 50 high schools across the state signed up to participate in the 2015 campaign.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 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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