This month’s blog photo symbolizes important milestones for cohort students. High school seniors should be confirming that all of their financial aid documents have been received by their institutions, reviewing financial aid award letters, calculating final college costs, submitting enrollment fee waivers, and finalizing enrollment decisions by May 1. Students, in grades 9 – 11, who have successfully completed the assigned activities since January should be well prepared for Spring Break and college visits, as one of our Guilford County Cohort students has commented:
“This is amazing! I have only attended two meetings, but as a result of the activities that I have completed, what I now know about preparing for college is so much more than other students at my school. Learning about liberal arts colleges, research institutions, cooperative education programs, diversity weekends, honors colleges, test optional colleges, and how to raise my ACT scores has been mind boggling. I am prepared with copies of my résumé, and many questions, as I visit colleges during Spring Break. My parents and I are so appreciative of this program that we cannot thank you enough for helping us to develop a college-bound plan.”
Milestone #1: An Academic Résumé: Developing an academic résumé is the cornerstone of the college and scholarship planning processes. The résumé, which summarizes a student’s academic, employment, community service, and leadership experiences, together with a student’s honors and awards, provides two important points of reference: (1) The strengths a student should highlight as a college and scholarship applicant; (2) The weaknesses a student should work to overcome if they are to expand their college and scholarship opportunities. With rare exception, students in our 2017 Cohorts who have received the largest amount of financial aid offers, scholarship awards, and offers of admission from selective colleges and universities have stellar résumés that have been submitted as a supplement to their college and scholarship applications. The most successful students have résumés that were consciously and purposefully developed throughout their high school experience. A high quality and carefully crafted one-page résumé can open many opportunities, as attested to by 2014 cohort student, Kyla Baron of Xavier University of Louisiana:
“I had already received a full-tuition scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana when I received a letter requesting that I submit a résumé and an essay to be considered for a room and board scholarship. Before I could write the essay I received a telephone call requesting that I only submit my résumé. A short time after submitting my résumé I received an updated Award Letter in which I received a full scholarship, laptop computer, and book voucher.”
[Show Me the Money, p. 63]
Milestone #2: Know Your Brand: For a variety of reasons, many students have been challenged by the branding activity. Some students have not developed a clearly-defined brand, while others are in denial as to the brand they have unwittingly established. For example, students who have not engaged in meaningful community service, assumed leadership roles, or developed their gifts and talents, have brandied themselves as ‘average’ students. Being branded as an average student is not something that most students wish to acknowledge, however, there is nothing wrong with being average–unless you wish to be above average. If a student objectively reviews his or her résumé, which reveals them to be ‘average,’ then he or she can set goals and develop a course of action to become an above average college or scholarship applicant.
Milestone #3: Email Signature: Taken together, the résumé and branding activities provided the guidance for each student to develop an email signature. A student’s email signature communicates his or her current branding–branding that is subject to change as a student pursues his or her goals, e.g., being inducted into the National Honor Society, becoming an AP Scholar, earning a varsity athletic letter, qualifying for the All-State Chorus, etc. In the examples provided below, the first email signature brands the student as a top academic student while the second email signature brands the student as a gifted musician and athlete..
North Springs High School Class of 2018
GPA: 4.0; ACT 33 | Student Body President
National Honor Society | AP Scholar with Honor
North Springs High School Class of 2018
Tri-M Music Honor Society | All-State Chorus
Captain: Varsity Girls Volleyball | Georgia All Conference
Milestone #4: Align Your GPA, Classes, and Scores with Your College Aspirations: While there are many scholarship pathways (e.g., athletics, art, dance, music, and theatre), the most direct pathway to a full college scholarship is based on a student’s grades earn, classes taken, and test scores (i.e., SAT or ACT). While all students will expand their college and scholarship opportunities as a result of superior grades and test scores, students from lower income backgrounds have the most to gain, and the most to lose. Top colleges typically have generous need-based financial aid policies, and due to low enrollment of lower income and first generation students, can provide such students with an advantage in the admissions process.
Students who fail to develop an effective SAT or ACT exam preparation strategy will miss out on thousands of dollars in institutional aid and private scholarship opportunities. Far too many students devote far too little attention to preparing themselves to attain high scores on either the SAT or ACT exams until their senior year. Unfortunately, for thousands of students, it is simply too little too late–effectively sabotaging their chances of being accepted into the ‘right’ colleges or being awarded the ‘right’ scholarships.
Milestone #5: Know Who You Are: As a result of the January through March activities, you should have engaged in meaningful self-reflection. You should have expanded your awareness of how closely your body of work (i.e., grades, test scores, class rank, community service, leadership, and extracurricular activities) is aligned with your college/career aspirations. For example, are you currently a competitive candidate for being offered admission into the institutions on your preliminary college list? Are you a competitive candidate for merit-based scholarships? If you are from a lower income family, are you currently earning the grades and test scores needed to be offered admission into a selective school (e.g., Princeton, Duke, Amherst) that will provide you with a ‘no-loans’ financial aid package? If you have gifts and talents, have you developed them to scholarship potential?
What did you learn from the March Activities?
Each day, our current high school seniors are experiencing college and scholarship opportunities directly linked to the March Activities assigned when they were high school juniors: Careers and College Majors, Cooperative Education Programs, Honors Colleges, Diversity Weekends, and Test Optional Colleges. As a high school junior, Kimberly H., carefully researched Diversity Weekend opportunities and was invited to all-expenses paid Diversity Weekends at Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, and Washington and Lee. Kimberly has been offered admission to each of her four Diversity Weekend schools, including a full scholarship to Washington and Lee. While Samuel P., did not attend the Diversity Weekend at Amherst College, he has been offered admission and a full scholarship to Amherst College. Kameron W., has been offered admission to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Honors College; Samuel P. and Karmen P., have been offered admission to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Honors College; and other cohort students are awaiting admission decisions from the Claflin University Honors College. Morgan J., has been offered admission to Drexel University; while Kyrah F., and Samuel P., have been offered admission to Georgia Tech. Drexel and Georgia Tech are two institutions that are nationally recognized for their cooperative education programs. Taylor D. has been offered admission to Wake Forest, a test optional institution.
Having completed the FAFSA—The Key to Unlocking Financial Aid activity, students should have identified an estimated EFC and whether or not they qualify for the U.S. Pell Grant. Developing an awareness of whether a student qualifies for need-based financial aid is an important step in identifying the type of colleges and universities to which a student should be pursuing admission. Students who are unlikely to qualify for need-based financial aid must identify colleges and universities offering merit-based scholarships in areas reflective of the student’s gifts and talents. Current high school seniors, who incorporated what they learned through this critically important financial aid activity, now discover themselves well-matched to colleges and universities aligned with their financial needs and meritorious areas of achievement.
Developing a preliminary college list provides a context for discussing your course schedule and selecting classes for the next school year. The 4 assigned activities for April will require careful and thoughtful deliberation between you and your teachers, parents, and high school counselors. You may have many options in regard to planning your course schedule. However, such options must be considered within the context of your current academic performance level, demands of work or extracurricular activities, gifts and talents, types of awards and recognition you wish to pursue, and selectivity of the colleges to which you plan to apply for admission. For example, if you are planning to pursue community college or a certificate program, you may not desire to take such demanding Advanced Placement classes as AP US History or AP Calculus. However, if you are planning to apply to such selective colleges as Princeton, Duke, Amherst, Swarthmore, or Georgia Tech, you may discover that such classes as AP Calculus, AP Statistics, and AP Physics are expected (if offered by your high school). The Common Data Set for each these institutions provides critically important insight into the type of students who are admitted.
Beyond meeting your high school graduation requirements, there is no perfect course schedule, only one that is thoughtfully developed based on your interests, gifts, talents, and postsecondary aspirations. Does a student interested in pursuing Mechatronics Engineering need to take AP US History or a Dual Enrollment class in Art Appreciation? Does a student interested in becoming a writer need to take AP Calculus or AP Statistics? Should a student who struggled in Honors Chemistry enroll in AP Chemistry or a student who struggled in Honors English/Language Arts enroll in AP British Literature? The ‘Planning Your Course Schedule’ Activity will provide a context for engaging your parents, teachers, and counselors in these important conversations. The Baltimore Sun article, “Bridging the Divide: Within integrated schools, de facto segregation persists,” profiles the impact of course enrollment decisions on today’s school culture and tomorrow’s student opportunities.
The four assigned activities for April are:
- The Common Data Set
- Teacher/Counselor Evaluations
- Planning Your Course Schedule
- Commencement and Other Recognition
As a reminder, do not submit your individual activities to us. We request that you submit a narrative (in MLA format), by the last day of the month in which the activities are 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. Do not wait until the end of the month to download the activities. Download the activities today, complete one activity per week, and submit your summary prior to the last day of the month. Late summaries will not be reviewed.
There are no meetings scheduled for the Atlanta-area Cohort or for students in Florence County School District 3.
Sunday, April 9, The Next Episode (Turner Chapel AME Church Boardroom)
Sunday, April 9, Turner Chapel High School Senior Meeting
Sunday, April 9, Crossroads for Teens
Saturday, April 15, Atlanta-area Cohort Conference Call
Saturday, April 22, 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.
Where are Students Being Accepted?
Current cohort students have been offered admission to Agnes Scott, Allen, Amherst, Benedict, Brenau, Brevard, Campbell, Charleston Southern, Claflin, Clark Atlanta, Clemson, Coker, College of Charleston, Davidson, Dillard, Drexel, Duke, Eastern Carolina, Emory, FAMU, Fayetteville State, Florence-Darlington Tech, Francis Marion, George Mason, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Guilford Technical Community College, Greensboro College, Hampton, Hampton-Sydney, Howard, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, Jackson State, Johnson C. Smith, Lander, Lenior-Rhyne, Liberty, Limestone, Livingstone, LSU, Mercer, Meredith, Middle Tennessee State, Morehouse, Morris, Newberry, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Pfeiffer, Presbyterian, Roanoke, Shaw, South Carolina State, Southern Virginia, Spelman, Swarthmore, Tennessee State, The Citadel, Tuskegee, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Wilmington Honors College, University of Alabama, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, University of Georgia, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Pittsburg, University of South Carolina, USC-Beaufort, USC-Sumter, Valdosta State, Vanderbilt, Voorhees, Wake Forest, Warren Wilson, Washington and Lee, Washington University, Williams, Winston-Salem State, Wingate, Winthrop, Wofford, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
- Alexis M., has been offered the University of Alabama Graham Family Endowed Scholarship.
- Caleb O., has been offered an all-expenses paid admission to the Middle Tennessee State University Scholars Academy Freshmen Summer Institute.
- Jada B., has been offered the UNC-Greensboro Spartan Award.
- Jada S., has been offered the Coker College Bell Tower Scholarship and Coker Institutional Grant.
- Justin M., has been offered a North Carolina A&T Merit Scholarship and Mercer University Academic Scholarship.
- Kameron W., has been offered the UNC-Wilmington Spartan Award.
- Karmen P., has been offered an UMBC Humanities Scholars Scholarship; Davidson College Presidential Scholarship; George Mason University Scholars Scholarship; Washington University Eliot Scholarship; and Emory University Grant.
- Kimberly H., has been offered admission to Princeton, Duke, Emory, Vanderbilt, Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, and Washington and Lee; and offered full scholarships to Washington and Lee and Duke.
- Kimberly M., has been offered the UNC-Greensboro Spartan Award.
- Kyrah F., has been offered a FAMU Full-tuition Scholarship; and UMBC Center for Women in Technology Scholarship.
- Morgan J., has been offered an IUPI Norman Brown and Leadership Scholar Scholarship.
- Samuel P., has been offered a full scholarship to Amherst College; and admission to Georgia Tech, together with Georgia’s Zell Miller Scholarship and two summer internship awards.
- Taylor D., has been offered admission to Emory University and Wake Forest University.
- Victoria S., has been offered the Winston-Salem State Provost Scholarship.
- Zyra M., has been offered the Voorhees College Scholarship.
We had a great March meeting for Atlanta-area Cohort students, held at the Turner Chapel AME Church. Due to scheduling conflicts and Spring Break for Atlanta-area schools, we will not host a face-to-face meeting in April, but will host a conference call on Saturday, April 15, 2017 from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The phone number is 1-712-775-7031; Access Code is 761141.
While we had a great kickoff in February with S1 and S2 students from The Berkeley Institute and the CedarBridge Academy, we were unable to schedule a March meeting. We will notify students via email when the next meeting date is confirmed.
Crossroads for Teens
We had a great March meeting with students and parents working from their laptop computers. Several students will have great Diversity Weekend opportunities and we are excited about making nominations to Discover Swarthmore. Mark your calendar for our next meeting on Sunday, April 9, 2017, from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm and bring your laptop computers.
Florence County School District 3
We had a great March meeting with students during which we continued the process of assisting students in developing accurate Final College Costs Forms for each of their institutions. We are excited to be assisting students in finalizing their enrollment decisions, requesting enrollment deposit fee waivers, and planning their next steps after high school. Our final meeting will be on Saturday, April 8, 2017, in the School Board Room from 9:30 am – 3:00 pm.
Guilford County Schools First Generation
We are excited to be working with so many motivated high school juniors, and involved parents, even as we assist current high school seniors in finalizing their enrollment decisions and tallying their scholarship offers. Our next meeting at the Guilford Technical Community College-Greensboro Campus will be on Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Turner Chapel AME Church
On Sunday, April 9, 2017 we will host a mandatory meeting for all Turner Chapel AME Church high school seniors planning to participate in the 10th Annual Turner Chapel AME Church High School Graduation Celebration Worship Service, immediately following service in Room 182.
United Ghana Christian Church
We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to join students and mentors at the last meeting and congratulate the students and mentors working together on the first Sunday of each month at the United Ghana Christian Church and the great progress that you continue to make.
No student is guaranteed of being offered admission to every college or awarded every scholarship. However, one of our cohort students was offered admission to Amherst, Duke, Emory, Princeton, Spelman, Swarthmore, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Vanderbilt, Washington and Lee, Williams, AND, after being selected as a finalist for the Ron Brown Scholars Scholarship, was not selected? While we are as disappointed as the student, and certainly respect the decision of the Ron Brown Scholars Program, we remain mystified. We continue to trust that for every door that closes, God has another, greater, more bountiful door that will open. God has another, greater, more bountiful door that will open. However, the important lesson for all students is that no matter how accomplished you are, competition for college admissions and being awarded high dollar scholarships is fierce. You must do the best that you can and trust God for the rest. Appreciate your blessings and learn from your disappointments.