College Planning Boot Camps
Ideally, rising 9th graders should enter high school with a 4-year plan of academic, extracurricular activity, community service, leadership, and personal goals. These goals should be conceptualized within a college/career context as to maximize each student's 2 million high school minutes.
Rising high school seniors should enter their final year of high school as part of a 7-year plan that began as students’ entered middle school. Unfortunately, most rising high school seniors have very little college knowledge and lack any meaningful understanding of the highly competitive nature of the college admissions and scholarship application processes. Lower income first generation, and undocumented students are particularly at risk of entering their final year of high school without clear senior-year goals or a plan to the right postsecondary pathway.
3-day or 5-day Programs
Our 3-day or 5-day College Planning Boot Camps can serve as the kickoff of a College Planning Cohort or as a stand alone program for high school students. Rising 9th graders leave the boot camp with comprehensive 4-year plans, while rising seniors begin their final year of high school with college admission and scholarship strategies. Students are engaged in a comprehensive set of differentiated and multidisciplinary activities designed to:
- Expand students' college knowledge
- Develop the skills, through narrative writing, to prepare students for writing college admissions and scholarship essays
- Engage students in self-reflective activities through which they set school-year academic, leadership, and community service goals
- Guide students through the process of identifying postsecondary pathways, which are aligned with their individual Student Profiles
- Engage students in exploring careers and college majors that are aligned with their gifts, talents, interests, and financial needs
- Engage students in a broad set of comprehensive activities, which guide students through college and scholarship research
- Assist students in identifying institutions which best meet their personal needs and family circumstances (e.g., first generation, undocumented, 504 Plans)
While the instructional approach we use will meet the needs of all students, we have experienced remarkable success with lower income, first generation, undocumented, and low performing students, many of whom began the process lacking a fundamental belief that college was possible, let alone probable. However, our highly publicized success has resulted in:
- Increased GPAs
- More rigorous course taking
- Fewer discipline infractions
- Increased leadership and extracurricular activity involvement
- 5 Gates Millennium Scholars
- 3 Posse Foundation Scholars
- The first Meyerhoff Scholar selected from South Carolina
- Acceptance into such highly selective colleges as Amherst College, Williams College, Pomona College, Cornell, Emory, Kings College of London
- Invitations to highly selective diversity weekends at Amherst, Williams, and Swarthmore
- Acceptance into colleges where students have been able to earn their way into full scholarships such as Tennessee State, Howard, Spelman, and Morehouse
- Full scholarships to such HBCUs as Xavier (LA), FAMU, and Howard
- Students who are successfully pursuing STEM-related disciplines at such institutions as Xavier (LA), Spelman, Winston-Salem State, UGA, Mercer, UMBC, Claflin, and Georgia Tech
- Students who have successfully attained their undergraduate degrees and are now attending graduate, law, and medical schools
Making the 'right college choice' can have a huge impact on degree attainment and the amount of student loan debt. Each year, our students provide testimony to our success through their involvement on our annual College Discussion Panel, hosted each December during students’ first semester break. Our panelists share their experiences and provide important insight into their journey regarding their college choice, financial aid, and campus experiences.
What People Are Saying
"Mr. Wynn's 'College Planning Boot Camp' model works. His ability to teach and manage 50 students in a room, all working on laptop computers, is nothing short of remarkable. We have brought teachers, administrators, and school board members by to observe how he works with students and the amount of work he is able to inspire students to do. Our 2014 18-student cohort generated over 800 pages of narratives on their way to earning over $3.2 million in scholarships and admission into 48 colleges and universities. Their success inspired 113 students to sign up for our 2015 cohort. In 2014, we had our first Gates Millennium Scholar, first student interviewed for admission to the Ivy League (Yale, Cornell, and Columbia), and the first UMBC Meyerhoff Scholar selected from the state of South Carolina. Over the course of the 3-day boot camp, students worked from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm. The photographs tell the story—student engagement, intrinsic motivation, and the ability to engage in a level of intellectual discourse that many believe students from lower income families incapable of. The casual observer would not know that our students attend a Title I High School where over 90 percent of students receive free- or reduced-lunch."
— Laura Hickson, Superintendent of Schools, Florence County School District 3 (Lake City, SC)
"The experience at the college planning boot camp made me realize, that I had no idea what I was going to do for a career or where I was going to college. I was shown that next school year I need to step up my game as a senior and get more done for my resume. I believe this experience will take me to places I could not have imagined going on my own. I learned that this is going to take hard work and dedication to achieve my goal of one day becoming not only a high school graduate, but a college one as well."
— Brianna G., High School Senior, Lake City High School (Lake City, SC)
"My first day of boot camp I thought it was going to be boring (all work and no play). I knew that we were going to get a lot of work done but I didn’t know to what extent and was not prepared for everything I would learn. Honestly, I was right about the boot camp being a lot of work, except it was not boring at all. I got to reconnect with some of my friends from school and was able to have a good time while doing my work. I learned that you can have fun while doing work and that the work we did at the boot camp was exciting because I got to talk about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. The boot camp taught me that recanting my life story is an important first step in writing a high quality personal essay. The boot camp inspired me to become more involved in my community and to make the most of my final year of high school. I plan to join more groups and participate in more community service activities. Success is nothing if you don’t have anyone to share it with and I plan on giving back to my community in as many ways as possible. Being in the boot camp taught me that patience and persistence are virtues that everyone should possess because they are the keys to college and career success. I was really inspired when Mr. Wynn showed the video of the prodigies. The one that touched me the most was the one about the boy from Africa who creates things to help his community. Self-taught and with limited resources he made a generator to power his small community. That’s what I call resourceful. His story taught me that I should be able to help my community and others because of all the available resources that I have failed to take advantage of. Overall I learned that I should work harder to excel in school and that all things are possible if I put my mind to it."
— Whitney M., High School Senior, Lake City High School (Lake City, SC)
"As a result of attending the Boot Camp, I learned that applying and preparing for college is not as easy as I had imagined it to be. I did not know that there was so much involved in developing college applications, creating a résumé, researching colleges, or identifying scholarships. My résumé really gave me a dose of reality. If I would have known the importance of joining clubs and assuming leadership roles, I would have had a very different high school experience. I am beginning my senior year of high school with a clear focus, stated goals, and commitment to developing myself into a high quality college applicant."
— Tommyontae B., High School Senior, Lake City High School (Lake City, SC)