Welcome to the new College Planning Cohort (TM) website
Students portrayed in this month's blog photo, are high school juniors and seniors who attend The Next Episode on the second Sunday of each month at the Turner Chapel AME Church where students engage in a Teen Bible Study and college planning discussion (i.e., a cohort). High school juniors who attended The Next Episode last year are now participating in the Turner Chapel AME Church High School Senior Cohort. Many cohort students have received offers of admission to a broad range of colleges and universities, and are receiving thousands of dollars in scholarship offers each month. Any school, church, community organization, or group of neighbors can follow their example and begin a cohort. Anyone can assist students in expanding their college and scholarship pathways.
On January 26, I had the opportunity to speak to S4 students at The Berkeley Institute in Bermuda. On Friday, January 27, I had a free day before working with our newly-formed cohort of S3 students, so I developed and launched a new website to support our College Planning Cohort Program (TM). While this was no easy task, all of the resources were available to me in my room at the Cambridge Beaches Hotel, overlooking the ocean—my computer and access to the Internet.
As a computer and Internet access enabled me to launch the new College Planning Cohort website, a computer and Internet access can enable any cohort student with launching his or her pathway to college and thousands of dollars in scholarship opportunities. However, as I had to scour YouTube videos, research web development tools, and explore web hosting providers and platforms, a similar process is required of students who wish to expand their college and scholarship opportunities. Listen carefully to the video. "Why College Matters," in which students, quite thoughtfully, and passionately, discuss their reasons for wanting to attend college. If you carefully listen to the thoughts of one student, you will hear her casually talk about student loans as part of the cost of attending college—almost as certain as taking classes in math, science, social students, and language arts during high school—it is just part of the process of pursuing a college education. Student loans are not a foregone conclusion and your parents will not need to empty their retirement savings, mortgage their home, or assume tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for your college education, if you apply yourself to completing the activities and your parents engage in conversations about what you are learning and share in conceptualizing the best college and scholarship plans for your family.
What did you learn from the January activities?
The Context for the Conversation between you and your parents should be more than, “I want to go to Harvard,” and should now provide a more thoughtful context for why you even want to attend college and more thoughtful consideration as to what you wish to study and the type of career you wish to pursue. The My Profile activity is designed to provide insight into your strengths and weaknesses, extracurricular activity involvement and leadership, and achievements thus far during your high school experience. What are My Gifts and Talents should have revealed gifts and talents with which you have been uniquely blessed, or gifts, talents, and interests that you have opportunities of developing to tip the college and scholarship scales in your favor. Developing an Academic Résumé may have afforded you and your parents authentic insight into who you are and what you have done at this point during your educational journey.
The Self-Assessment activity should have provided a glimpse into how you compare beyond your high school and local community to students from nearly 25,000 U.S. public high schools (not to mention the thousands of students from private schools and international students) who will be applying for college admission and scholarship consideration. You should have emerged from the Get Organized activity with a College Planning Notebook full of awards, certificates, and copies of your high school transcript and SAT/ACT scores as a further reflection of your student profile. Activities 1 - 6 should have provided insight into how effective Summer Planning can be used to strengthen your weaknesses and expand your strengths, to increase your competitiveness and marketability as a college and scholarship applicant. As a result of the Social Media, Usernames, and Passwords activity, you should have changed any inappropriate email addresses (e.g., deathanddestruction, cutiepie, dontmesswithme, iaintyourbabydaddy) and become more conscious of the images, language, and ideas with which you associate yourself through social media. And finally, you should have emerged from the Creating My Brand activity with an email address that highlights your current branding and a more insightful understanding of the branding which you wish to develop by the time your college and scholarship applications are in the mail.
As much as anything, the January activities are designed to reveal a student’s stamina, work ethic, priorities, and predisposition to making excuses. How badly do you want to be successful?
Overview of February’s Activities
Refer to ‘Important Actions’ outlined in the College Planning Cohort (TM) Year-to-Year Actions and place a check in the boxes, ‘Know your Student Profile,’ ‘Develop an Academic Résumé,’ ‘Develop a College Planning Notebook,’ ‘Engage in a self-assessment,’ and ‘Summer Planning.’ January’s activities provided important first steps in closing the College Knowledge Gap—helping students to understand what they should be doing and why they should be doing it.
Joel Vargas, in “College Knowledge: Addressing Information Barriers to Colleges” notes:
“Possessing the knowledge about how to prepare for and apply to college is essential to students’ obtaining the opportunity to attend. Yet, getting information and advice about college preparation, financial aid, and planning is most difficult for those young people who are found least often in higher education institutions, namely, low-income students, racial and ethnic minorities, and youth from families with no previous college-going history.” (p. 3)
The gap is widening daily as a result of changes to college admissions policies, federal student aid programs, and college admission examinations. As the competition for gaining college admission and being awarded scholarships increases, each year thousands of high school students enter their senior year of high school at a huge disadvantage. We not only encourage you to engage in meaningful conversations with your parents, through which you share what you are learning, but to share your thoughts and ideas with your friends and classmates.
“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death.”
— John Fitzgerald Kennedy (35th U.S. President)
Each student needs his or her own college and scholarship plan, based on fact, not fiction. Each student’s self-assessment will be further strengthened as a result of his or her first semester grades. The January activities established the foundation for February’s work. Whatever manner in which you completed the ‘Self-Assessment’ activity, the effort in which you applied yourself to the January activities, is in itself, an assessment of how vested you are in your own college and scholarship planning—i.e., fact, not fiction.
We request that you submit to us a narrative (in MLA format), by the last day of the month in which the activities were assigned, summarizing what you learned from each of the activities (include your name and the name of your cohort in the subject line) and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The five assigned activities for February are:
- 2 million minutes
- Unpacking My Résumé
- Using My Résumé to Set Goals
- PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ASVAB
- AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment
While February only has five activities, they cannot be taken likely, as they are firmly rooted in the foundation established by January’s activities. The Unpacking My Résumé activity provides further insight into what you (the student) have done and how you are distinguishing yourself as a potential college or scholarship applicant. A thoughtful and self-reflective review of your résumé should guide the type of goals you should be pursuing as you seek to maximize your remaining 2 million minutes of high school. The painful and costly lesson learned by thousands of high school seniors, as a result of having failed to achieve test scores (SAT or ACT) high enough to meet the admissions standards of the colleges to wish they desire to apply, should inspire the efforts of high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. The PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ASVAB activity should guide the efforts of students toward reaching their test score goals by June of their junior year of high school. As each student contemplates the rigor of AP, IB, or Dual Enrollment coursework, they may now do so within the context of their self-assessment, gifts, talents, and work ethic.
One of the benefits of participating in our College Planning Cohort (TM) program is learning through the experiences of other cohort students. Over the coming months, our senior cohort students will be receiving many college acceptances and scholarship offers. Joy and laughter is already filling the households of the following students:
- High School Sophomore, Landon W., has been accepted, and received a scholarship, to attend the Yale Young Global Leaders Conference in Beijing, China.
- Alexis M., has received a $1,000 Georgia DDAC Pota E. Coston Trailblazer Scholarship.
- Amanda L., Avery T., Blair D., Hali S., Junae S., Kameron W., Na’talya S., Nathan S., Niberia G., Victoria S., and Zyria M., have been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Wingate University.
- Avery T., Junae S., and Victoria S., have been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Lenoir-Rhyne University.
- Blaire D., and Darius H. have been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Livingstone College.
- Emerald M., and Kai B., have been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Coker College.
- Jonathan F., has been offered an Academic Merit Scholarships to Winthrop University.
- Jonathan F., and Kai B., have been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Coastal Carolina University.
- Justin M., has received a $50,000 MC Lyte HipHop Sisters Foundation Scholarship.
- Justin M., has been offered an Academic Merit Scholarship to Dilliard University.
- Kai B., Niberia G., and Taylor D., have been offered Academic Scholarships to Benedict College.
- Kai S., has been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Hampton University and Tennessee State University.
- Kai S., has received a $1,000 Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship.
- Kameron W., has been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Campbell University and Hampton-Sydney College.
- Kameron W., has been offered admission into the University of North Carolina - Wilmington Honors College.
- Karmen P., has been offered admission into the Honors College at UMBC, the UMBC Grit & Greatness Scholarship, an Academic Merit Scholarship to Georgia Mason University, and the Presidential Scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana (full tuition) .
- Karmen P., Kimberly H., Kyrah F., and Samuel P., were offered admission to the University of Maryland - Baltimore County (Honors College of the University of Maryland System).
- Kimberly M., has been offered an Academic Merit Scholarship to Warren Wilson College.
- Kyrah F., has been offered the Presidential Scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana (full tuition), Agnes Scott Latitia Pate Evans Scholarship, University of Alabama Blazer Gold Scholarship, UMBC Grit & Greatness Scholarship, and Academic Merit Scholarships to the University of Alabama, and University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
- Lanier L., has accepted an Academic Merit Scholarship and Athletic Scholarship to play volleyball at Brenau University.
- Morgan J., has been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to the University of Indiana - Purdue, Drexel University, and the University of Pittsburgh.
- Sage S., has been offered an Academic Merit Scholarship to Brevard College.
- Samuel P., has been offered admission into the Honors College and offered an Academic Merit Scholarship to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
- Taylor D., has been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to Francis Marion University and Clemson University.
- Victoria S., has been offered Academic Merit Scholarships to North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina - Greensboro.
More is yet to come...