High school classrooms busy with talk about college

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Dallas ISD high school juniors and seniors are starting the school year focused on taking steps toward college. Counselors are meeting and talking with students to help them get prepared to make the most of their conversations with college recruiters at the Sept. 17 Districtwide College Fair.

At Hillcrest High School, Lead Counselor Gailene Anderson recently visited with seniors in the school’s AVID classroom to discuss what to expect from the college fair. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a course designed to help first generation college students get past hurdles like passing advanced placement classes, preparing to score well on college entrance exams, and identifying colleges that will be a good fit. Teachers are helping students complete college applications, write college admission essays, and search for financial aid.

During the classroom visit, Anderson and Counselor Freda Toles brainstormed with students how to stand out in the crowd of students who will meet with college admissions officers at the fair. They discussed with students their prospective majors and rehearsed questions they might ask to get information to help them select a school with the right degree program, internship opportunities, and financial aid.

“We’re encouraging our students to do research to identify three to five colleges they’re interested in, and we’re helping them develop meaningful questions about the college’s programs and access to financial aid,” said Anderson.
Parents should also do some homework, said Anderson. Many parents aren’t aware that once students turn 18 and leave for college, parents may not be able to access much information about their students. For that reason, she said they should get as much information as possible about the school where their child will spend the next four years before the student leaves for college.

“Parents need to ask about the environment where the college is located, and make sure the community around the college is safe,” she said, advising that parents should be just as concerned about their student finding a college that is a good fit as they are about access to financial aid and career opportunities.
Counselors are signing up juniors and seniors now for the Sept. 17 college fair, to be held at Jesse Owens Memorial Complex, 9191 S. Polk St. Admission and transportation to the event are free of charge.

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