This month’s blog photo symbolizes the opportunities being experienced by high school seniors as the puzzle of their college and scholarship plans is pieced together. One of our cohort students recently attended the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Center for Women in Technology Selection Weekend. Two other cohort students have been invited to attend the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Meyerhoff Scholars’ Selection Weekend. Each of these programs provide $20,000 annual, and renewable, scholarships. 2015 Gates Millennium Scholar and second-year Meyerhoff Scholar, Mikayla Hanna (2015 FCSD Cohort), is excited that so many cohort students have the opportunity to join her at UMBC and reflects on her college choice:
“UMBC is a great school and a warm and welcoming environment. As the Honors University of the University of Maryland System, there are a lot of really smart students at UMBC. However, I am glad that I choose to attend UMBC and will be forever grateful for having been selected into the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. My first-year internship was at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center–what a great opportunity.”
Although most cohort students are still awaiting financial aid award letters, many students have already been offered full scholarships to a number of colleges and universities. While cohort students in grades 9 – 11 are continuing to research summer programs, sophomore cohort student, Landon W., received a full scholarship and recently experienced an extraordinary opportunity in Beijing, China through the Yale Young Global Scholars-Beijing.
What did you learn from the February activities?
The conversation between you and your parents regarding your
2 million minutes should have presented two important questions:Which students in the film, ‘2 Million Minutes,’ do you most identify—those who are working diligently to expand their college and scholarship opportunities, or those whose primary focus is on socializing? How are you planning to maximize your remaining high school minutes to expand your college and scholarship opportunities? February’s activities not only provide a context for the conversations with your parents, but a context for conceptualizing important action plans over the course of your remaining high school minutes.
Narrative 1: Academic Experiences is an important narrative, to which you will refer as you complete college and scholarship applications. Some version of the question, “What were your best and worst academic areas?” is a frequent writing prompt, even for stellar academic students. For students who experienced low grades in one or more classes, you may draw from this narrative to provide important insight into the difficulties experienced and corrective actions taken. An illness, death in the family, unforeseen obstacles, unique challenges experienced in a particular subject (or with a particular teacher), or balancing the demands of working or playing a varsity sport, can provide important content for future college and scholarship essays.
Narrative 2: Employment and Community Service and Narrative 3: Extracurricular Activities may contain stories or experiences which may provide the foundation for your personal statement. A personal passion, challenge, failure, or success may be used to personalize your life and background in a meaningful way.
Narrative 4: Awards and Recognition not only provides a pause for self-reflection regarding awards and recognition you have received, the narrative provides an opportunity for you to reflect on the type of awards and recognition you might pursue in the future through areas identified in narratives 1 through 3.
The Using My Résumé to Set Goals activity provides critically important insight into the purpose of the Developing an Academic Résumé activity. When you review your one-page résumé, do you like what you see? What you see is what a college admissions officer or scholarship provider will see. Your résumé has the power to inspire a college admissions officer or scholarship provider to look deeper into you as an applicant or dismiss you as a competitive candidate for admission into their institution or recipient of their scholarship. The goals you choose to set should align with your college and scholarship aspirations. For example, if you aspire to be offered admission by selective colleges or to be a competitive applicant for high dollar scholarships and institutional grants, then your goals should reflect the grades, test scores, leadership, and service at a level commensurate with your college and scholarship aspirations. Completing this activity should leave you with two résumés—an actual résumé and a projected résumé. Your projected résumé should have areas in bold or red reflecting accomplishments, leadership, and areas of service you are committed to pursuing.
Your high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores provide the most direct pathway to a full college scholarship. While PSAT scores can put a student on the radar of many colleges and universities, being selected as a National Merit Finalist will not result in the type of scholarship opportunities that a comparable score on the actual SAT exam will provide. The activity provides a variety of links to assist in answering the question, “Will I focus my test prep on the SAT or ACT?” For students considering enlisting in the military after high school, now is the time to be developing the skills that will be tested on the ASVAB exams. Your ASVAB score will determine the branch of the military in which you qualify to enlist and your MOS (Military Occupations Specialities).
- For college-bound students, decide if you will focus your test prep on the SAT or the ACT.
- Establish a goal for the target score you wish to attain and determine whether the score meets the admission standards of the colleges to which you are planning to apply or meets the qualifying criteria for the scholarships for which you wish to earn.
- Identify the necessary tutoring or supplemental resources, and develop a test prep schedule that will guide you toward reaching your target score by June or your junior year.
- If you reach your target scores by June of your junior year, you may focus your energies on college and scholarship research, and visiting college campuses throughout the summer prior to entering your senior year of high school. If, unfortunately, you do not reach your target scores, you may continue your test prep through the summer in preparation for the September exam. Should you determine that you are unlikely to reach your target scores, you may need to expand your college research in the area of ‘Test Optional Colleges.’
This activity is not to taken likely. The way in which colleges handle AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment coursework varies widely. Some colleges do not accept dual enrollment college credits for incoming freshmen, while other colleges will award full credit for college credits from classes in which students earned a final course grade of ‘C’ or higher. Some colleges do not accept all AP/IB classes, and those that do, vary in the AP/IB exam scores required. The primary purpose of this activity is to ensure you understand the available course opportunities at your high school and that you begin to align these opportunities with your college aspirations. After ensuring that you understand the opportunities, the conversation between you and your parents should focus on which opportunities will you take advantage of and the role, if any, these opportunities will have on expanding your college and scholarship opportunities, college readiness, and academic standing (i.e., sophomore or junior) as you are admitted to college.
- What academic opportunities will further accentuate my branding, e.g., STEM, creative or visual arts, business, politics, etc.?
- How are AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment classes handled by the type of colleges to which I am interested in applying, e.g., will I receive credit, and if so, are there any grade, exam score, or subject-area criteria?
- What is the level of difficulty that I can handle, and attain a final grade of ‘B’ or higher, given the scope of my extracurricular activity involvement?
Note: There were some broken links discovered in this activity. The links have been corrected and the activity will remain posted during March for students desiring to revisit the activity.
As you begin the March Activities, you should have developed a one-page résumé and an email signature promoting your brand, both or which may change as you achieve the goals you have established. During March you must once again refer to ‘Important Actions’ outlined in the College Planning Cohort (TM) Year-to-Year Actions and place a check in the boxes, ‘PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ASVAB,’ ‘Develop your email signature,’ and ‘PSAT, SAT, or ACT testing schedule.’ The goals that you have set in the areas of academics and extracurricular activities provide important steps toward developing 4-year academic and extracurricular activity schedules and discovering or developing your ‘Hook.’
While January provided steps toward closing the College Knowledge Gap—helping students to understand what they should be doing and why they should be doing it—the February Activities should have inspired you to set goals and begin conceptualizing action plans. The six assigned activities for March focus on making connections between your educational and career aspirations with the broad range of college and university opportunities.
The six assigned activities for March are:
- Careers and College Majors
- Cooperative Education Programs
- Honors Colleges
- Diversity Weekends
- Developing a Preliminary College List (will also assist with preparing for college tours)
- Test Optional Colleges
The Military Scholarships activity will assist students in exploring a cost-free education at a U.S. Military Service Academy or a tuition-free education at a 4-year institution through an ROTC program. Students who are considering such pathways will need to adhere to a strict timeline for beginning the application process, requesting a congressional nomination, and gathering the necessary information to ensure they are a strong candidate for a competitive application process to a military service academy or to the National ROTC Scholarship Program.
The FAFSA—The Key to Unlocking Financial Aid activity should be completed by parents and will assist parents in confirming whether their student will qualify for need-based financial aid, merit-based scholarships and grants, or both. This information will assist in focusing each student’s college and scholarship research.
As a reminder, do not submit your individual activities to us. 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.
Sunday, March 5, United Ghana Christian Church
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11, Florence County School District 3
Sunday, March 12, Atlanta-area Cohort
Sunday, March 12, Crossroads for Teens
Saturday, March 18, Guilford County Schools First Generation
In response to our need to communicate the most pertinent information to each of our cohorts, all meeting dates are posted to the Calendar Page or our College Planning Cohort website. You must be subscribed to the correct Cohort Email Distribution List to receive important announcements pertaining to your cohort.
- Bill H., has signed a Letter of Intent to play baseball at USC-Sumter.
- Jalen B., has been offered a full athletic scholarship to play football at The Citadel.
- Justin, M., has scholarship offers from Dillard University that have exceeded $100,000.
- Kai S., has been offered a full scholarship to Tennessee State University.
- Kimberly H., is a finalist for the Ron Brown Scholars Program.
- Kimberly H., received an invitation to the Diversity Weekend at Washington and Lee University.
- Kyrah F., was invited to the UMBC Women in Technology Selection Weekend.
- Morgan J., was invited to the University of Pittsburgh Diversity Weekend and successfully raised her ACT Score to a ‘29!’
- Samuel P., is a National Merit Finalist.
- Samuel P., and Kimberly H., were invited to the UMBC Meyerhoff Scholars Selection Weekend.
- Taylor D., has been offered a full scholarship to Fisk University.
We had a great kickoff of our monthly meetings for Atlanta-area cohort students, held monthly at the Turner Chapel AME Church. We are excited to be working with so many students and families who are committed to expanding students’ college and scholarship opportunities.
We had a kickoff in February with S1 and S2 students from The Berkeley Institute and the CedarBridge Academy. Our afternoon meeting with S3 students greatly assisted students in expanding their college search to a broad range of institutions where they may pursue their postsecondary educational and career aspirations. We look forward to working with you at our next meeting in March (TBD).
Crossroads for Teens
We had a great February meeting and are excited to be working with so many academically accomplished and talented students. We would like to remind all students to complete their registration forms and résumés. Mark your calendar for our next meeting on Sunday, March 12, 2017, and bring your laptop computers.
Florence County School District 3
We had a great February meeting with students and parents during which we began the process of assisting students in developing accurate College Costs Comparison Sheets for each of their institutions. We had an interesting discussion regarding the accreditation of Benedict College, and learned that despite beliefs to the contrary, Benedict College is currently, a fully accredited institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Our next meeting is on Saturday, March 11, 2017.
Guilford County Schools First Generation
As a result of parent meetings coordinated by the Guilford Parent Academy, the 2018 Guilford County Schools First Generation Cohort is now filled to capacity. Interested students may now sign up on the waiting list for slots that may come available in the future. We had a great meeting with parents and students at the Guilford Technical Community College-Greensboro Campus. Students who are committed to remaining in the cohort must complete the survey and February Activities. Our next meeting with be on Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Turner Chapel AME Church
As we transition from working with our TCC seniors, who are finalizing their college enrollment decisions, to working more closely with current juniors, we are pleased to welcome Akilah W., Shelby B., and Summer F., as the first Turner Chapel AME Church students to qualify for participation in the 2018 TCC Senior Cohort. We are excited to be working with you and your parents. Our next meeting is on Sunday, March 12, 2017 (with the Atlanta-area Cohort) in Room 182.
United Ghana Christian Church
We congratulate the students and mentors working together on the first Sunday of each month at the United Ghana Christian Church. Students are making great progress as they navigate the U.S. educational system and plan their postsecondary trajectories. We look forward to joining you at your next meeting on Sunday, March 5.
All cohort students who are working on desktop computers at our monthly meetings should always bring flash drives containing current documents and for saving their work. If you need to purchase a flash drive, we will have 1 GB USB drives available at future meetings at a cost of $5 each.