November 1, 2017
Author: Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
Editor: Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13)
October was a busy month for our College Planning Cohort Program. We welcomed new students and parents into our Guilford County Schools First Generation Ambassadors, Crossroads for Teens, and national cohorts; and began our World Victory International Christian Church Cohort (Greensboro, NC). The JSTEM Academy in San Antonio, Texas, has integrated our text, “A Middle School Plan for Students with College-Bound Dreams,” into their 6th, 7th, and 8th grade advisory periods to expand the college planning conversation throughout their school community. Our 8th Annual Turner Chapel AME Church College Fair was a phenomenal success, with over 300 parents and students in attendance at the pre-College Fair workshop, “Show Me the Money: Scholarships, Financial Aid, and Making the Right College Choice.” Many attending students received on the spot scholarships and offers of admission from participating colleges.
October 1 was the opening of the FAFSA filing period. Consequently, high school seniors should now know whether their EFC qualifies them for need-based financial aid or if they must focus their attention on pursuing merit-based scholarships and grants. Based, in part, on their EFC, students are making adjustments to their college list and to the admissions cycle through which they will be submitting their applications. Seniors who have found the right fit and right financial aid policies are increasing their chances of being offered admission by applying ‘Early Decision.’ For such students, today is the ‘Early Action’ and ‘Early Decision’ deadline at many colleges and universities. The College Planning Cohort experience has led many high school seniors to the point where their applications are being placed into the ‘right’ rooms and will reflect a high quality ‘Self-Presentation.’ However, this will not have come without grit and determination. Cohort students have developed academic résumés, set school-year goals, researched colleges and scholarships, assumed leadership roles, performed meaningful community service, identified their ‘hook,’ and carefully worked to clearly-define their brand. The reward for all of their work will be in identifying the right college match and making themselves competitive candidates for college admission and scholarship consideration. Many cohort students have even defied the odds and experienced huge increases in SAT and ACT scores as a result of having established clear test score goals and having made a commitment to expanding their subject-area knowledge and developing effective testing strategies.
As was the case in 2016, two of our hardest working students, Kristen S., positioned herself to receive invitations to the Diversity Weekend opportunities at Amherst College, Williams College, Swarthmore College, and Johns Hopkins University, while Loren T., positioned himself to be invited to the Diversity Weekends at Williams, Bowdoin, Carleton, and Davidson. However, they were not the only cohort students to have been selected from among the most academically accomplished students in the country to receive Diversity Weekend invitations from selective liberal arts colleges and research universities.
Congratulations to Guilford County Schools cohort student, Brenna K., who has been selected as a QuestBridge Finalist, FCSD3 Cohort student, Damien L., who has been selected as a finalist for the SallieMae Bridging the Dream Scholarship and has as a semifinalist for The Gates Scholarship, and to Peyton W., and Travis W., who have been selected as finalists for the Posse Foundation Scholarship.
At this point during the college admissions process, cohort students should be well aware of the competition for college admission, as reflected in the Amherst College Admissions video. The October activities guided cohort students through finalizing their college lists, identifying institutional scholarship opportunities, and developing college admissions strategies. Performing arts students are finalizing their creative arts résumés, preparing for auditions, and uploading videos showcasing their musical, dance, and theatrical gifts, while athletes are finalizing their athletic résumés. Students who will be applying to through the regular decision process, with college application deadlines after the first of the year, will have time to carefully review applications and fine-tune college admissions essays. However, this month will begin the transition for many of our high school seniors into private scholarship research.
November Activities (Seniors)
As high school seniors finalize their self-presentations, they will have developed:
- A High Quality one-page Academic Résumés
- Special-focus Résumés for Athletics or the Creative Arts
- Art Portfolios or Performance Videos
- A High Quality College Admission Essay Making a Strong Connection to Their Body of Work
- High Quality Letters of Recommendation Reinforcing Their ‘Hook’
- An Academic Record Which Strongly Supports Their Desired College Major
- Strong Connections to Their Top-choice Schools
As seniors transition into scholarship research, it is anticipated that students will revisit each of the scholarship activities throughout the balance of their senior year of high school. As students, “Get Organized,” engage in “Scholarship Research,” focus their research on a specific “Intangible,” and create a “Winning Scholarship Package,” they will repeat the process for each area of their scholarship focus. Engaging in scholarship research is an exhaustive process with each Internet search yielding millions of results. The scholarship research process will require writing and adapting essays to fit a broad range of writing prompts, from what a student would most desire to change in the world to the most important issues of social justice facing society today.
November Activities (9 – 11)
October’s self-reflective activities, in which students assessed their gifts and talents, unpacked their résumés, set goals, and developed school-year action plans must now be considered within the larger context of what students have learned about themselves during these first months of the school year. Are you enrolled in the correct level of coursework, i.e., AP, Dual Enrollment, or honors-level? Are you balancing your time and performing well in your classes and activities? Are you engaging in your classes and building relationships with teachers, counselors, and coaches in a manner in which you will be able to approach them for a stellar letter or recommendation? The assigned activities for November will assist in further crystallizing students’ current-year plans and begin the process of conceptualizing students’ coursework, leadership, community service, and activity involvement throughout the context of developing comprehensive 9 – 12 college-bound plans.
We will begin hosting a monthly meeting for students participating in the ‘CPC: 9 – 11 Grade Cohort.’ Meetings during November and December will review the monthly activities and engage students and parents in a large group discussion. Beginning in January, participating students will be asked to bring their laptop computers to engage in a working session at which time, students will be guided through some of the assigned activities. Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13 BA English) is now a co-instructor in the CPC: 9 – 11 Grade and WVICC Google Classrooms.
Saturday, November 4, 2017: College and scholarship application assistance. The FCSD3 College Planning Cohort will meet on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at the Florence County School District 3 Boardroom (located behind the administrative offices) from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. On Monday, November 6, 2017, we will be meeting (by appointment) in the Lake City High School College Corner from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm. Representatives from SallieMae will also be interviewing students and local representatives as part of their documentary film about FCSD3 Cohort Student, Damien Lee, who is a finalist for the SallieMae Bridging the Dream Scholarship.
Sunday, November 12, 2017: The Next Episode Bible Study and College Planning Session (high school juniors and seniors) will meet in the Boardroom at the Turner Chapel AME Church, located at 492 North Marietta Parkway • Marietta, GA 30060, from 9:30 am to 11:45 am.
Sunday, November 12, 2017: The CPC: 9 – 11 Grade and TCC Cohorts will meet immediately following worship service in Room 182 at the Turner Chapel AME Church, located at 492 North Marietta Parkway • Marietta, GA 30060, from Noon to 1:30 pm.
Sunday, November 12, 2017: The Crossroads for Teens Cohort (middle through high school students) will meet at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, located at 955 Johnson Ferry Road • Marietta, GA 30068, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm.
Saturday, November 18: The Guilford County Schools First Generation Cohort (high school juniors and seniors) will meet at Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) Greensboro Campus, 3505 East Wendover Avenue, Greensboro, NC. Room 304-B (3rd Floor), from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Saturday, December 16: College Panel Discussion, hosted by the Turner Chapel AME Church Education Ministry, will be presented in the Chapel, located at 492 North Marietta Parkway • Marietta, GA 30060, from Noon to 1:30 pm. Student and parent panelist will represent a broad range of liberal arts colleges and research institutions. Topics will cover the preparation, transition, financial aid, internship and research opportunities, challenges to be overcome, and obstacles to be avoided.
Have a Question?
Contact us at:
College Planning Cohort
C/O Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity
P.O. Box 70457
Marietta, GA 30007