By Dr. Helen V. Griffith
January. It’s the most wonderful time for year for high school seniors and their parents. Most college applications were submitted over the holidays, ending the months-long process of writing essays, asking for recommendations, and retaking standardized tests. It’s time for everyone to take a deep breath and congratulate themselves for a job well done.
In my 25 years as an educator, and the mother of three adult children, I hear the same thing from many parents every January. They are proud of the hard work and determination their children showed during college application “crunch time.” At the same time, they lament that they didn’t start the process sooner. And I mean much sooner.
Ideally, families start preparing for the college application process when their scholars are in sixth grade. Unfortunately, many only start thinking about college in junior year, assuming that the high school has everything covered. Some schools, like e3 Civic High, where I serve as executive director, have a rigorous college preparation plan, but many others simply don’t have the resources or bandwidth to coordinate college campus visits, test prep, the search for financing, and essay support like we do. In addition, we provide university classes on our high school campus and meaningful internship opportunities, while most schools do not. As a result, scholars and their families may feel a little “lost in the sauce” when they start thinking about the path to college readiness. That’s why our board of trustees and team of learning facilitators felt it was critical to reach out to middle school students and families and help them craft a plan for success that begins in sixth grade.
Our first workshop, which is free to parents of middle school scholars, will offer practical tips and timelines for:
- Meeting course requirements.
- Understanding the difference between honors classes, Advanced Placement classes, and concurrent college coursework.
- When to take PSAT, SAT, ACT, and whether or not they need to take SAT subject tests and AP exams.
- How to take advantage of summer bridge programs.
- Visiting college campuses live or virtually.
- Creating an impressive resume of community service and leadership activities.
- Participation in clubs, sports, and work experience.
- Financing college.
- Actively partnering with school counselors once scholars are first-year high school students.
Our workshop is covering a lot of ground so families can put together a plan of action that can be executed over many years. Trying to manage the college admission process in senior year is stressful, but anxiety can be seriously reduced if scholars and families start in middle school. More importantly, early planning will result in a wider range of college acceptances for scholars.
At e3 Civic High, we’re intensely focused on preparing our scholars for college and careers. As such, we know that there’s no time to waste and it’s never too early to start. At our free workshop, college and career counselors will share their combined decades of experience in college admissions and provide actionable items families can do together.
Join us for this free community outreach event on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. and find out why we talk to scholars and their families on day one of school to learn about their goals, hopes, and dreams. That conversation translates to a plan of action for success. We’re with scholars for the long game because that’s what it takes.
—Dr. Helen V. Griffith is the executive director of e3 Civic High.