October Activities

October 1, 2017

Author: Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
Editor: Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13)

October College Planning Newsletter

Screen-Shot-2017-10-01-at-8.00.34-PM

FAFSA

The FAFSA filing period opened today for all high school and college students applying for financial aid for the 2018/19 academic year. Please click onto the following link for a comprehensive overview of the FAFSA: Completing the FAFSA.

Google Classroom Update

September was a great introductory month for our College Planning Cohort Google Classrooms.

October will bring two important changes:

  1. Assignments will be posted on the first of each month and close on the last day of the month.
  2. All assignments and postings will receive a Pass or Fail grade so that parents will be aware of their student’s participation.

Guilford County School First Generation Cohort

We would like to welcome the new high school juniors and seniors, and their parents, to the GCS First Generation Cohort. We had a great meeting and look forward to our next meeting on Saturday, October 21 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm). We encourage all participating students to complete the current assignments in preparation for our next meeting. Please plan to arrive on time as there is a great deal for us to accomplish during our short 4-hour meeting time.

Florence County School District 3

We had a great September meeting with Lake City High School seniors, and a great boot camp with Lake City High School Early College students. FCSD3 Cohort students may continue to receive assistance from Ms. Martinez between monthly meetings. FCSD3 Early College students may continue working with Ms. Singletary to complete the boot camp activities.

Our October 7, LCHS Cohort meeting will be devoted to assisting students and parents with completing the FAFSA. We will host a morning session from 9:30 am – 11:30 am and an afternoon session from 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm.

You must bring the following information:

  • 2015 Federal Tax Returns (Parents and Students)
  • Social Security Number and Driver’s License (Parents and students)
  • Email Address (Parents and Students)

Please email cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com to confirm your participation.

Turner Chapel AME Church Senior Cohort

The Turner Chapel AME Church high school Senior Cohort will meet on Sunday, November 12, and Sunday, December 10 in Room 182, immediately following worship service. All participating students and parents are required to attend. Following a short presentation, students and parents will meet with their Small Group Coaches.

Turner Chapel AME Church, The Next Episode

Please mark your calendar. Due to a conflict with Women’s Day, The Next Episode will not meet during October. However, all high school juniors and seniors are invited to attend the final two Next Episode meetings of 2017 on Sunday, November 12, and Sunday, December 10 (9:30 am in the Boardroom). All participating cohort juniors and seniors are required to attend.

WVICC Cohort

We are excited to begin a new cohort, sponsored by Bishop Adrian Starks and Pastor Shandi Starks, of the World Victory International Christian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. We had a great overview meeting and look forward to all interested students registering in the WVICC College Planning Cohort Google Classroom.

Mark Your Calendar for the 8th Annual Turner Chapel AME Church College Fair

Over 50 colleges and universities will be participating in the 8th Annual Turner Chapel AME Church College Fair on Saturday, October 28, 2017 from Noon until 3:00 pm. College planning and financial aid workshops and resources will be available to assist students with identifying postsecondary pathways and scholarship opportunities.

I will be presenting a pre-College Fair workshop on Scholarships, Financial Aid, and Making the Right College Choice from 11:00 am – Noon in the Turner Chapel AME Church Chapel.

Click here to register: http://ypdvillage.wixsite.com/collegefair

How is your school year coming?

After several weeks of school and getting to know your teachers and their expectations, each student must pause for self-reflection and self-assessment. Begin by reviewing your résumé. What is the impact you wish to have on your résumé as a result of your first semester academic performance (e.g., GPA, class rank, and SAT/ACT scores)?

Important academic questions:

  1. What academic goals have you set and will you be able to achieve those goals in each of your classes?
  2. Will you need academic support?
  3. Are you organized and have you established an effective study routine?
  4. Have you put myself into a position of being well prepared for tests and quizzes, and to complete and submit all assignments?

What extracurricular activities have you become involved and what leadership roles have you accepted?

Important leadership and community service questions:

  1. Are you involved in the types of clubs and activities that will further define your ‘brand?’ (e.g., athletics, math and science, music, dance, community advocate)?
  2. Have you identified the leadership roles you plan to pursue (e.g., captain, officer, founder, coordinator)?
  3. Have you identified meaningful community service aligned with your brand (e.g, coaching youth sports; tutoring students in my passionate areas of math, science, dance, music, art; mentoring youth to reduce discipline infractions or gang involvement)?
  4. Do you have a clear college and scholarship plan to distinguish yourself in the areas of community service and leadership?

National College Planning Cohort

We will no longer post activities in our monthly newsletter. Students, in grades 9 – 11, who registered for our national college planning cohort in 2016, may visit our website, http://collegeplanningcohort.com/index.php/monthly-activities/. You will have the opportunity to continue downloading monthly activities throughout 2017 at no additional cost. Students who desire to participate in our College Planning Cohort Google Classroom may register for $199.95 per semester or purchase a discounted registration of $349.95 to cover the 2017/18 academic year.

High school seniors who are in need of immediate help, may contact our offices to set up a 30-minute free consultation (678-395-5825) or email cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

What are the benefits of the College Planning Cohort Google Classroom?

Through our research, the Google Classroom platform offers many benefits to our program:

  • Documents are securely maintained on the Google server and automatically save
  • Documents may be securely shared with parents so that students, parents, facilitators, and cohort leaders are always aware of current actions and student work
  • We are cultivating a synergistic exchange of ideas, hopes, dreams, and college/career aspirations between students as they post comments of what they are learning and how their college plans are taking shape
  • By serving as facilitators, parents, teachers, counselors, or mentors will become part of a national college planning support network for students and families
  • We are providing more focused guidance as we assign supplemental activities based on each student’s dreams, aspirations, and body of work
  • We are providing opportunities for former cohort students to serve as ‘guest lecturers,’ to share their experiences and provide greater insight into the impact of the activities on cohort students’ college and scholarship outcomes

Would you like to start a cohort?

Meeting

While individual students may join our National College Planning Cohort Google Classroom, any group of 5 or more students may form a cohort and we will design a classroom for the student group or community-based organization. While students will complete the same activities, the class will be monitored by a facilitator (e.g., parent, coach, mentor, counselor, teacher, etc.) from the sponsoring group. Cohorts may be formed around a grade level (9 – 12), group (e.g., Boy/Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, after school program, etc.), or organization (e.g., fraternity, sorority, Jack and Jill, etc.).

Have a Question?

Contact us at:

Phone: (678) 395-5825
Email: cpc@collegegplanningcohort.com
Website: www.collegeplanningcohort.com

Mail:

College Planning Cohort
C/O Foundation for Ensuring Access and Equity

P.O. Box 70457
Marietta, GA 30007

September Activities

September 1, 2017

Author: Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
Editor: Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13)

September College Planning Newsletter

September 1, 2017

Welcome to the 2017/18 College Planning Cohort™ Program

Today is the kickoff of our new College Planning Cohort Google Classrooms. As our program continues to evolve, Google Classrooms represent another means of furthering our efforts in closing the ‘college knowledge gap’ and assisting students in identifying the most viable postsecondary pathways to their college/career aspirations. These classrooms are designed to engage students in the assigned activities and to cultivate an environment in which students are sharing with, and learning from, other students.

Following is an overview of the new Google Classroom format:

Objective

Each assigned activity begins with an ‘Objective.’ Take a moment to read the ‘Objective’ of each activity so that you understand the purpose of the activity and what you should learn from having completed the activity.

Guiding Question(s)

Attempt to answer the guiding questions prior to completing the activity. After completing the activity, compare how you answered the questions with what you learned.

The cohort experience is all about both what you learn and how you apply what you learn to conceptualizing your college-bound plan. Your pre- and post-answers will reflect your ‘college knowledge’ and expose any ‘college knowledge gaps’ you may have. Even if you initially completed an activity as a high school sophomore and later completed the same activity as a high school junior, you may discover that not only are you better able to answer the guiding questions, but also that completing the activity a second time places the information into a different, larger context based on how your college and scholarship opportunities have evolved.

The Lessons

Most activities have several lessons. Some lessons are scaffolded, meaning that each lesson builds on what you learned from the previous lesson. Other lessons are independent, for example, one lesson may relate to institutional scholarships while another lesson may relate to military scholarships. Unless a lesson is listed as ‘Optional,’ the lesson should be completed as part of the activity.

Google Documents

All necessary documents and links are provided in each activity. Each document will become part of your ‘Body of Work.’ Body of Work is an important concept for cohort students: each activity and each corresponding document is designed to represent a piece of your overall college-bound plan (i.e., résumé, college research, scholarship research, essays, career research, gifts and talents, etc.). The goal of cohort participation is to create a high quality body of work, prior to beginning your senior year of high school. As a high school senior, your focus will be on creating a high quality ‘self-presentation’ of your body of work.

All Google Documents are shared and exchanged through the classroom, consequently, there will be no need to exchange documents via email.

What if I am registered for the cohort, but do not plan to participate in a Google Classroom?

Cohort students who are not registered to participate in the Google Classrooms will continue to have access to free downloadable activities on our website through December 31, 2017. On January 1, 2018, our program will only operate through the College Planning Cohort Google Classroom.

Congratulations

Receiving an invitation to a Diversity Weekend is more competitive than being offered admission to the college or university so these students are to be congratulated for being among the most accomplished students in the country to be offered all-expenses paid visits to some of the country’s best colleges and universities:

Kristen S., Guilford County Schools (NC)

  • Amherst College – Diversity Open House (DIVOH)
  • Johns Hopkins University – Hopkins Overnight Multicultural Experience (HOME)
  • Swarthmore College – Discover Swarthmore
  • Washington and Lee – Diversity and Inclusion Visit Experience (DIVE)
  • Williams College – Windows on Williams (WOW)

Brenna K., Guilford County Schools (NC)

  • Amherst College – Diversity Open House (DIVOH)

Loren T., Cobb County Schools (GA)

  • Williams College – Windows on Williams (WOW)

We would like to congratulate the following students for being selected for the next round of the Posse Foundation Scholars Program interviews:

  • Faith L., Fulton County Schools (GA)
  • Malathi R., Cobb County Schools (GA)
  • Travis W., Cobb County Schools (GA)

We would like to congratulate second-year Florence County School District 3 college students, Latajah Alford and Dawanya Burgess, who have been accepted into the Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College at Claflin University and awarded Honors College Scholarships.

September Activities (Seniors)

September Activities (Grades 9 – 11)

Important Announcements

College Planning Boot Camp

A 2-day College Planning Boot Camp for Early College Students in Florence County School District 3 (Lake City, SC) will be hosted on Saturday, September 30 and Sunday, October 1.

College Planning Cohorts

Florence County School District 3 (9:30 am – 3:00 pm):

  • Saturday, September 2, 2017
  • Saturday, October 7, 2017
  • Saturday, November 4, 2017
  • Saturday, December 2, 2017
  • Saturday, January 13, 2018
  • Saturday, February 3, 2018
  • Saturday, March 3, 2018
  • Saturday, April 14, 2018

Guilford County Schools First Generation (9:00 am – 1:00 pm):

  • Saturday, September 30, 2017
  • Saturday, October 21, 2017
  • Saturday, November 18, 2017
  • Saturday, December 9, 2017
  • Saturday, January 20, 2018
  • Saturday, February 17, 2018
  • Saturday, March 17, 2018
  • Saturday, April 21, 2018

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church Crossroads for Teens (3:00 pm – 4:30 pm)

  • Sunday, September 10, 2017
  • Sunday, October 8, 2017
  • Sunday, November 12, 2017
  • Sunday, December 10, 2017
  • Sunday, January 14, 2018
  • Sunday, February 11, 2018
  • Sunday, March 11, 2018
  • Sunday, April 8, 2018

Turner Chapel AME Church ‘The Next Episode’ (9:30 am in the Boardroom)

  • Sunday, September 10, 2017
  • Sunday, October 8, 2017
  • Sunday, November 12, 2017
  • Sunday, December 10, 2017
  • Sunday, January 14, 2018
  • Sunday, February 11, 2018
  • Sunday, March 11, 2018
  • Sunday, April 8, 2018

Want to Join a Cohort?

Register at the following link: http://rspublishing.com/college-planning-cohorts/college-planning-cohort-registration/

Register for a Crossroads for Teens Cohort at the following link: http://www.crossroadsforteens.solutions/home.html

Email inquiries: cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com

Registration: Cohort registration is for the academic year of September through May. Currently, we offer a College Planning Cohort Google Classroom for students in grades 9 – 11 and for high school seniors. In January, 2018, we will offer a College Planning Cohort Google Classroom for middle school students, based on the text, “A Middle School Plan for Students with College-Bound Dreams.”

What are the benefits of the College Planning Cohort Google Classroom?

Through our research, the Google Classroom platform offers many benefits to our program:

  • Documents are securely maintained on the Google server and automatically save
  • Documents may be securely shared with parents so that students, parents, facilitators, and cohort leaders are always aware of current actions and student work
  • We will cultivate a synergistic exchange of ideas, hopes, dreams, and college/career aspirations between students as they post comments about what they are learning and how their college plans are taking shape
  • By serving as facilitators, parents, teachers, counselors, or mentors will become part of a national college planning support network for students and families
  • We will provide more focused guidance as we assign supplemental activities based on each student’s dreams, aspirations, and body of work
  • We will provide opportunities for former cohort students to serve as guest lecturers, to share their experiences and provide greater insight into the impact of the activities on their college and scholarship outcomes

Would you like to start a cohort?

While individual students may join our National College Planning Cohort Google Classroom, any group of 5 or more students may form a cohort and we will design a classroom for the student group or community-based organization. While students will complete the same activities, the class will be monitored by a facilitator (e.g., parent, coach, mentor, counselor, teacher, etc.) from the sponsoring group. Cohorts may be formed around a grade level (9 – 12), group (e.g., Boy/Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, after school program, etc.), or organization (e.g., fraternity, sorority, Jack and Jill, etc.).

Have a Question?

Contact us at:

Phone: (678) 395-5825
Email: cpc@collegegplanningcohort.com
Website: www.collegeplanningcohort.com

Mail:

College Planning Cohort
P.O. Box 70457
Marietta, GA 30007

August Activities

August 1, 2017

Author: Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
Editor: Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13)

Important Changes

This month brings important changes to our College Planning Cohort™ Program. Following is an overview of these changes.

Google Classroom

On September 1, we will begin our College Planning Cohort Google Classrooms. Each classroom will be designed to support a specific cohort. Please review the overview of the classroom in which you may have the opportunity to participate (listed in alphabetical order).

Crossroads for Teens Cohort

All registered students have been added to the classroom and should receive an invitation to sign into the classroom by August 11, 2017. Mr. Wynn will be the instructor and Mr. Patterson will serve as the classroom facilitator. At the regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday, August 13, Mr. Patterson will fully explain the new format. Students must bring a laptop computer to the meeting. The classroom will officially open on September 1.

Guilford County School First Generation Cohort

Students who have submitted a fully completed ‘My Profile’ form will be added to the classroom and should receive login information by August 15, 2017. The classroom will officially open on September 1. Our goal will be for students to complete the four monthly assignments, prior to the monthly meetings, so that we may focus our meeting time on engaging in large and small group discussions. High school seniors are on an aggressive timeline to engage in college and scholarship research, prepare college and scholarship applications, maintain stellar senior-year grades, engage in leadership and community service, build relationships with their top choice colleges, complete the FAFSA, approach teachers for recommendation letters, write essays, and review financial aid award letters. The classroom will be designed to guide students and parents through this process.

The monthly schedule of meetings for the 2017/18 school year will be announced by the Guilford County Schools Diversity Office.

Florence County School District 3 Cohort

All rising Lake City High School seniors, who participated in the boot camp and confirmed their desire to continue participating in the cohort, have been added to the classroom and should receive their login information by August 15, 2017. The classroom will officially open on September 1. However, students may log into the classroom as soon as they receive their login information and complete the pre-registration activities.

The monthly schedule of meetings for the 2017/18 school year will be posted to the classroom as soon as the schedule is finalized by Mr. Ned Blake, principal, Lake City High School.

Turner Chapel AME Church Senior Cohort

Currently, the following students are enrolled in the Turner Chapel AME Church Senior Cohort:

  • Akilah Williams
  • Shelby Brown
  • Summer Ford

Other interested students (who are members of the Turner Chapel AME Church) may contact the Turner Chapel Education Ministry and apply to become part of the TCC Senior cohort or join the 9 – 11 cohort. All participating high school juniors and seniors are required to attend the monthly Next Episode Teen Bible Study sessions.

Turner Chapel AME Church Girl Scouts Cohort

All students registered with Girl Scout Troop Leader, Mrs. Lisa Willis, have been added to the classroom. Other students will be added to the classroom within 3 days of finalizing their registrations. Mr. Wynn is the instructor, Mrs. Kim Sackey is the small group coach, and Mrs. Lisa Willis is the classroom facilitator. The classroom will officially open on September 1. Registered students may begin completing the pre-registration activities as soon as they receive their login information.

United Ghana Christian Church Cohort

All registered students have been added to the classroom and should receive their login information by August 15, 2017. Mr. Wynn will be the classroom instructor and Ms. Nana Birago Adjepong will serve as the classroom facilitator. Students in grades 9 – 11 will be enrolled in the UGCC Cohort and high school seniors will be enrolled in the Turner Chapel AME Church Senior Cohort.

National College Planning Cohort

Students, in grades 9 – 11, who registered for our national college planning cohort in 2016 will have the opportunity to continue receiving assigned activities via our monthly newsletter throughout 2017 at no additional cost. Students who desire to participate in our College Planning Cohort Google Classroom may register for $199.95 per semester or purchase a discounted registration of $349.95 to cover the 2017/18 academic year. Students who purchased their College Planning Cohort registration in 2017 will automatically be placed into the College Planning Cohort Google Classroom at no additional cost for the first semester of the 2017/18 school year and may renew their registration for the second semester at any time prior to January 1, 2018.

High school seniors who are interested in receiving college planning guidance may contact us to set up a 30-minute consultation during which time we will volunteer to provide our suggestions as to your most viable college options.

What are the benefits of the College Planning Cohort Google Classroom?

Through our research, the Google Classroom platform offers many benefits to our program:

  1. Documents are securely maintained on the Google server and automatically save
  2. Documents may be securely shared with parents so that students, parents, facilitators, and cohort leaders are always aware of current actions and student work
  3. We will cultivate a synergistic exchange of ideas, hopes, dreams, and college/career aspirations between students as they post comments of what they are learning and how their college plans are taking shape
  4. By serving as facilitators, parents, teachers, counselors, or mentors will become part of a national college planning support support network for students and families
  5. We will provide more focused guidance as we assign supplemental activities based on each student’s dreams, aspirations, and body of work
  6. We will provide opportunities for former cohort students to serve as ‘guest lecturers,’ to share their experiences and provide greater insight into the impact of the activities on their college and scholarship outcomes

Would you like to start a cohort?

While individual students may join our National College Planning Cohort Google Classroom, any group of 5 or more students may form a cohort and we will design a classroom for the student group or community-based organization. While students will complete the same activities, the class will be monitored by a facilitator (e.g., parent, coach, mentor, counselor, teacher, etc.) from the sponsoring group. Cohorts may be formed around a grade level (9 – 12), group (e.g., Boy/Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, after school program, etc.), or organization (e.g., fraternity, sorority, Jack and Jill, etc.).

Cohort Email Address

The primary email address being used to communicate with participating students and families is cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com. The email address through which Google Docs are shared is collegeplanningcohort@gmail.com.

Have a Question?

Contact us at:
Phone: (678) 395-5825
Email: cpc@collegegplanningcohort.com
Website: www.collegeplanningcohort.com

Want to learn more about the complete scope of Mr. Wynn’s work: www.mychalwynn.com

Mail:

College Planning Cohort
P.O. Box 70457
Marietta, GA 30007

cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

July Activities

July 1, 2017

Author: Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
Editor: Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13)

July College Planning Newsletter

Many of our graduating high school seniors are already immersed in summer programs on their respective college campuses, with many others anxiously awaiting the beginning of classes in August. A word of advice—budget! Those students who will be staying on campus will soon discover how incredibly expensive it is to furnish a space as small as a dormitory room. Housing deposits, meal plans, snacks, personal items, school supplies, health insurance, books, and the many campus-based fees will quickly tally into the thousanCollege Studentsds of dollars. If you have received scholarship checks, please keep the money in the bank and continue applying for scholarships. If your scholarship funds are going to be paid directly to your school, regularly review your student account to ensure the funds have been appropriately credited. Find a trusted advocate (i.e., relative, mentor, clergy, counselor) to assist in monitoring your student account and interacting with your financial aid officer as there are simply too many things that can go awry. Failure to monitor your student account and what your school is charging to your account can quickly result in your taking out a student loan, or expanding your student loan tally, just to make it through your first year.

Similarly, you must identify a trusted advisor to assist in planning your first year schedule of classes. If you have a merit-based scholarship based on your GPA, you must find a balance of first year classes that will support a smooth transition into college and that will allow the best opportunity to earn the necessary grades to avoid losing your scholarship—particularly students who are under strict GPA requirements for state and institutional scholarships. Last year, we successfully lobbied for one of our students to split her science classes between the first and second semesters. Doing so, resulted in her performing well in both classes while many students taking both chemistry and biology in their first semester, together with labs for both classes, did not fare as well.

No matter where you chose to attend school, or your college major, purposeful planning did not end with being accepted into college, but will continue throughout college if you are to graduate on time with minimum student loan debt.

Changes to Our College Planning Cohort (TM) Program

Judson-ISD-Boot-Camp

We are finalizing significant changes to our College Planning Cohort (TM) Program that will begin on September 1. Under our new program, all registered students will have the opportunity to participate in a Google Classroom. We decided to move our program to the Google Classroom platform after experiencing technical challenges at our May College Planning Boot Camp for rising 9th graders in the Judson Independent School District. After observing the many technical challenges with students being able to view YouTube videos, download and upload documents, and access our assignments, the Metzger Middle School Media Specialist, Mr. John Mueller, talked to us about the success that teachers were experiencing using Google Classroom. Consequently, we introduced our first Google Classroom to rising 7th graders at the our June College Planning Boot Camp at Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy in Austin, Texas. We believe that the Google Classroom will further expand our students’ college planning experiences through the interactions with the facilitator, small group coach, and other students. We believe this will provide for an even more enriching experience as we facilitate the interaction between students from throughout the United States and Bermuda during the 2017/18 school year.

What is Google Classroom?

For those students who have not already engaged in Google Classrooms at their schools, the Google Classroom is an online platform that facilitates the sharing of documents and assignments, sharing links to videos and websites, and allows students to comment on what they have learned and review the comments of what other students have learned. Several of our cohort students from Guildford County Schools (NC) and from our Georgia cohort earned community service hours by assisting in developing our College Planning Cohort class.

All registered students will have the opportunity to participate in one of two Google Classrooms during the 2017/18 school year. One classroom will be comprised of high school seniors. The second classroom will be comprised of students in grades 6 – 11. Activities will be assigned on the first Saturday of each month and must be completed by the following Friday. Parents are encouraged to observe what their students are learning and how their students are interacting with other students.

Google Classrooms for Individual Cohorts

Our cohort program began in 2013 at the Turner Chapel AME Church in which students in our first cohort were gathered together as ‘Small Groups.’ While we provided the books, materials, and guidance, students were supported by Small Group Coaches, who monitored their work and discussed what they were learning. Our new program returns to this structure as we will establish separate Google Classrooms to support small groups for the Crossroads for Teens Cohort; Guilford County Schools First Generation Cohort; Florence County School District 3 Cohort; Turner Chapel AME Church Cohort; and United Ghana Christian Church Cohort. We will be facilitating the classrooms, which will be monitored by ‘Small Group Coaches.’ We are also expecting to host Jack and Jill of America and Girl Scouts cohorts. The classrooms will be facilitated by us and monitored by a representative of the cohort such as a parent, teacher, counselor, or mentor.

Please contact us if your fraternity, sorority, faith- or community-based organization is interested in forming a cohort. Cohorts may also be formed by parent or student groups who wish to collectively engage in their college planning. For more information, email: cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

Our August newsletter will provide further details in preparation for our September 1 kickoff.

July Activities

Our two assigned activities for July are for high school seniors:

  • Senior-year Checklist: The final year of high school promises to be an anxiety-filled year for many high school seniors. There are deadlines, communication with colleges and scholarship providers, interviews, and engaging in college and scholarship research, while working hard to earn impressive grades during the first semester prior to submitting college applications. This activity provides an overview of important tasks that should occur during the summer between your junior and senior year of high school and a checklist to ensure that you are well-prepared and organized as you begin your senior year of high school. These tasks will vary widely among seniors based on their body of work, type of college and program to which they are applying, and how they are ‘branding’ themselves in the college admissions process. For example, students in the creative arts will need to focus on preparing for auditions, developing portfolios, and developing special-focus résumés to showcase their talent. Students with high grades and test scores will be pursuing admission at a broad array of colleges, while students with good grades and low test scores will be more closely research ‘Test Optional’ schools. No matter which pathway each senior is pursuing, there are many tasks, milestones, and deadlines that must be met prior to when the first college or scholarship application is submitted to ensure the best chances of success.
  • Scholarship Research: Parents and students are frequently frustrated by scholarship books in which authors claim, “this is what I did to acquire my scholarship money, so this is all that you need to do.” Perhaps such books might benefit students from similar circumstances, achievement levels, support mechanisms, and with similar personalities; however, a student graduating valedictorian of his high school class, as was the case with the author of one popular scholarship book, has access to different scholarship opportunities than a ‘B’ student. A student with the time and resources to apply for hundreds of scholarships, has access to different scholarship opportunities than a student working long hours after school who does not have access to a high-speed Internet connection. A student with top ACT or SAT scores has access to different scholarship opportunities than an athlete with a 2.5 GPA. While all students can develop financial aid plans reflective of their unique situations, it is not as simple as, “this is what I did to acquire my scholarship money, so this is all that you need to do.”

Important Announcements

Monday, July 10: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: Florence County School District 3 high school seniors, middle college rising 10th graders, and their parents are invited to a meeting sharing important information about the July College Planning Boot Camps, and 2017/18 Lake City High School College Planning Cohort. There have been many misunderstandings pertaining to the College Planning Cohort Program, with many students failing to fully understand why participation is critical if students are to avoid student loan debt and make the right college match.

How-Much-Time

Superintendent of Schools, Ms. Laura Hickson, will make comments and refreshments with be served. Please RSVP to cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com or text 770.286.6054.

Tuesday, July 11-13: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm: 3-Day College Planning Boot Camp for rising Lake City High School Seniors. Students will develop a comprehensive college and scholarship plan; set school-year goals; and develop a college admissions and scholarship application time table.

RSVP to confirm your participation: cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com or text 770.286.6054.

Tuesday, July 18-20: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm: 3-Day College Planning Boot Camp for rising Lake City High School Middle College rising 10th graders. Students will review the college and scholarship plans developed during the 2016 College Planning Boot Camp; assess their 2016/17 school-year performance; set 2017/18 school-year goals; update their résumés; and assess where they are in their college admissions and scholarship application time table.

RSVP to confirm your participation: cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com or text 770.286.6054.

August (TBD): The Austin Independent School District will host a College Planning Boot Camp for high school students. Dates, times, and location will be announced in our August newsletter.

August 1, 2017: New student registration will be open for individual cohort students and for organizations desiring to sponsor a cohort. Activities for new students will be assigned on September 1, 2017.

Click here for the blog…​

June Activities

June 1, 2017

Author: Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
Editor: Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13)

Congratulations 2017 Cohort Students

May 1 was the enrollment decision deadline for most colleges and universities in the United States. Each year, the journey of our high school graduates informs and inspires future cohort students. While many of our cohort students had impressive outcomes and were blessed with full, or near full scholarship opportunities, one student provided an historic merging of her efforts with the goals of the College Planning Cohort (TM) Program.

Kimberly Hadaway (pictured here) has been under our tutelage since the third grade. Kimberly’s mother, a native of Guyana, was unfamiliar with the nuances of the U.S. Public Education System (i.e., course taking, middle school classes for high school credit, GPA, class rank, college admissions, and financial aid), yet wanted the best opportunities for her daughter. We met Kimberly and her mother at our church and began planning Kimberly’s college-bound trajectory with a single goal–earning a “Full Scholarship.” Beginning with the end in mind, Kimberly’s seven-year middle-through-high school college-bound plan was focused on maximizing her course taking, leadership, and community service opportunities. Kimberly took advantage of the opportunity to take middle school classes for high school credit (Spanish I and Algebra I). Kimberly took the most rigorous schedule of honors and Advanced Placement classes, of which she was capable of earning a final grade of ‘B’ or better, throughout high school. She participated in the marching band for four years, assuming a leadership role as section leader, in addition to assuming leadership roles in a broad range of high school, community, and church-related activities. Kimberly set personal goals and carefully constructed a résumé of grades, test scores, awards, activities, leadership, and service. She then used her résumé, together with well-written essays and supporting letters of recommendation, to support her applications to Diversity Weekends at Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams, and Washington and Lee. The high quality self-presentation, as projected in each application, resulted in her receiving invitations to attend the Diversity Weekends at all four schools. Kimberly would eventually be offered admission and full merit- and need-based scholarships to each of the four schools, as well as to Princeton, Vanderbilt, and Duke. Kimberly was also offered admission to Spelman College, Emory University, Emory Oxford College, Georgia Southern, Howard University, and the Honors College and Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County,

In total, Kimberly was offered admission to 13 of the 14 colleges to which she applied (Davidson College was the only school to which she was not offered admission), and $1.8 million in scholarships and grants. Kimberly determined that the right college choice for her would be the full need-based scholarship offer from Williams College (including free books for all four years), nestled in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

While the cornerstone of Kimberly’s full scholarship pathway was her academic achievement, several other cohort students successfully packaged themselves as ‘Scholar Athletes’ and actively engaged in identifying the ‘right’ college to which their body of work and college major, positioned themselves for generous institutional scholarship offers. Karmen received a full-tuition scholarship to George Mason, while Justin received a full scholarship, through a combination of private and institutional scholarships, to Dillard University’s dual degree engineering program with Georgia Tech. As a computer science major, Kyrah was offered a full scholarship to Clark Atlanta University, and a generous scholarship to the Center for Women in Technology Program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. After careful deliberation with her parents, Kyrah’s final college choice was to accept the Presidential Scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana, where she will enter a dual degree computer science program with Georgia Tech.

Three other scholar athletes, Lanier, Caleb, and Emerald, used their body of work to develop ‘Special-focus Résumés’ and market themselves to their top choice colleges. After contacting several coaches, Lanier landed a combination of academic and athletic awards to provide a full scholarship to Brenau University where she will join the Brenau University Women’s Volleyball Team. After contacting the coach at her top choice school (Coker College), Emerald (pictured here) was invited to join the Coker College Spirit Squad and will be receiving an athletic scholarship to further supplement the generous academic scholarships already received. Caleb, who has already received an out-of-state tuition waiver from Middle Tennessee State University as a result of having applied through the Academic Common Market, will be joining the Middle Tennessee State Track and Field Team with the potential of qualifying for an athletic scholarship.

Guilford County Schools First Generation College Planning Cohort student, Kameron, entered the cohort convinced that he would be studying veterinarian science at North Carolina State University. However, after engaging in exhaustive college and scholarship research, Kameron discovered the ‘right’ college was the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Honors College, where he will meet over 90% of his college costs through institutional and private scholarships.

2017 cohort students in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina where offered admission to many selective institutions, including the number one research institution–Princeton–and the number one liberal arts college–Williams College. However, the goal of our program was, and remains, to assist students in identifying the right college choice and earning the right scholarships, resulting in a no-cost or low-cost college education.

There were too many students participating in our cohort program to list all of their names, however, we would like to recognize those students who will begin a ‘cost-free’ or near cost-free college journey as the result of matching to the right colleges:

  • Alexxus (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Williamsburg Technical College.
  • Brandy (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Greenville Technical College.
  • Emerald (Lake City High School) is on track to receive near 100% funding (academic and athletic) of her education at Coker College.
  • Dyesha (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Florence-Darlington Technical College.
  • Justin (Hillgrove High School) has a full scholarship to Dillard University, through a combination of funding from a $50,000 MC Lyte and Hip Hop Sisters Foundation Scholarship and Dillard University Merit Scholarships.
  • Kai (Marietta High School) has a full scholarship to Tennessee State University.
  • Kameron (Southern Guilford High School) has received near 100% funding of his education at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Honors College.
  • Karmen (North Guilford High School) has a full-tuition scholarship to George Mason University.
  • Kimbre’ana (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Florence-Darlington Technical College.
  • Kyrah (North Cobb High School) was offered a full scholarship to Clark Atlanta University and has accepted the Presidential Scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana.
  • Lanier (North Paulding County High School) has a full scholarship (athletic and academic) to Brenau University where she will become a member of the Women’s Volleyball Team.
  • Marle’na (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Florence-Darlington Technical College.
  • Morgan (Hillgrove High School) was offered a full scholarship to Indiana University of Purdue University-Indianapolis and has accepted a near full scholarship to attend the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Nicholas (Dudley High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Guilford Technical Community College.
  • Samuel (Walton High School) was offered a full scholarship to Amherst College, and has accepted the Meyerhoff Scholars Scholarship to attend the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
  • Shykesia (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Florence-Darlington Technical College.
  • Taylor (Lake City High School) has a full scholarship to the University of South Carolina-Columbia.
  • Tiffany (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Greenville Technical College.
  • Travon (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Florence-Darlington Technical College.
  • Tyrone (Lake City High School) has a ‘cost-free’ college start at Florence-Darlington Tech.
  • Vince (Lake City High School) has a full scholarship to the University of South Carolina-Sumter where he will become a member of the USC-Sumter baseball team.

Whether a student is beginning college at Williams College or Williamsburg Technical College, the primary focus of the College Planning Cohort Program (TM) is to assist each student in identifying the college choice that reduces (or eliminates) their college cost and increases the likelihood of on-time degree attainment (AA, BA, MA, or PhD).

June Activities

Our summer activities are exclusively focused on rising high school seniors. Students in grades 6 – 11 should take advantage of the summer opportunities to work, visit colleges, strengthen academic weaknesses, engage in test prep, and further develop their gifts and talents.

There are only two assigned activities for rising high school seniors for the month of June:

After completing the My Senior-Year Profile and My Story activities, students participating in Small Groups should submit their essay, completed forms, and other documents associated with the activities to their Small Group Coach or mentor. Students participating in a College Planning Cohort, in which Mr. and Mrs. Wynn are serving as the Small Group Coaches must submit their documents, via email, to cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

College Planning Boot Camps

This summer, we will be hosting a full schedule of College Planning Boot Camps. Our first Boot Camp, for rising 9th graders in the Judson Independent School District, was held at Metzger Middle School. The 3-day, 8:30 am – 2:30 pm, boot camp was a huge success. Students created comprehensive four-year high school course schedules, clearly-defined goals, and college-bound plans consistent with pursuing their college and career aspirations.

College Planning Boot Camp dates are still being finalized for Florence County School District Three (SC) rising 9th, 10th, and 12th graders, and Austin ISD (TX) rising 9th graders in the Middle College Program and rising high school seniors. Interested students should contact our office cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

May Activities

May 1, 2017

Author: Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
Editor: Mychal-David Wynn (Amherst College ’13)

Why the Cohort is So Important

The photograph used in this month’s blog posting reflects the annual high school graduation celebration worship service, hosted during May for the past ten years at the Turner Chapel AME Church in Marietta, Georgia. This year, ten of the graduates also participated in our 2017 TCC College Planning Cohort, many of whom will be attending college on full scholarships.

This time last year, we opened the May newsletter and blog posting with the illustration below, taken from the report, Four-Year Myth: Making College More Affordable (Complete College America, 2014). The report notes that only 5 out of every 100 community college students receive their associate’s degree on-time and that at the country’s top 4-year public universities, only 36 out of every 100 students receive their bachelor’s degree on time. 4-year graduation rates at the institutions to which current cohort students were offered admission range from 90% at Princeton University and Davidson College to 12.7% at Morris College and 15% at South Carolina State University. 4-year graduation rates at state flagship universities range from 80% at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to 38% at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa.

Graduation-Rates-are-Too-Low

While any student who does not have a clear college-bound plan is at risk of enrolling into the wrong institution, the article by Catherine Gewertz, Income-Based Gaps in College Attainment Have Worsened Since 1970, Report Finds” notes that students from lower income families make up only 23 percent college graduates. Part of the reason for this huge gap is that students from lower income backgrounds are more likely to choose colleges with lower graduation rates.

“One reason for the schism in degree attainment, according to the report, is the types of institutions students attend. Students from the bottom two income quartiles more often enroll in colleges with lower graduation rates than do those from wealthier families, the report says.” (Education Week, 2016)

 

Developing an elementary-through-high school college-bound plan that will qualify students to be accepted into the ‘right’ colleges can significantly increase the chances of a student receiving his or her degree and avoiding thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

Today is Decision Day

April was the final month of the cohort experience for high school seniors. With the exception of colleges operating on ‘Rolling Admissions,’ today is the enrollment decision deadline for most 4-year U.S. colleges and universities. High school seniors may pause for a moment of self-reflective examination of what they did, or wish they had done, in determining the range of college and scholarship options and opportunities from which they may choose. However, for today’s high school juniors (and their parents), there are important lessons to be learned from the experiences of current high school seniors.

Resistance to developing a ‘realistic college list.’ Popular Facebook postings, and sensationalized news headlines, celebrate high school seniors who received offer letters from 25 or more colleges. However, while such headlines frequently state that students ‘received hundredsScreen-Shot-2016-04-13-at-8.34.27-AM of thousands of dollars in scholarships,’ the reality is that students received ‘scholarship offers,’ none of which may have offered a full scholarship to any one college and none of the ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’ in institutional scholarships can be used at any college other than the one college offering the scholarship. The unfortunate reality is that many seniors focused far too much attention on ‘getting in’ and far too little attention on ‘getting it paid for,’ a harsh reality confronting many students. What really is a sensational news story, is that one of our seniors applied to 12 schools, was offered admission to all 12 schools, was offered scholarships to all 12 schools, but most importantly, was offered full scholarships to 9 of the schools. Thus, 9 of the schools were the ‘right’ schools.

Her final decision came down to 2 schools that offered full scholarships and 1 school that had a great program, but whose scholarship money left a financial aid gap and the prospect of her accepting student loans or burdening her mother with loan debt. The right choice was accepting a full scholarship (which included free books and assistance with transportation expenses), offered by one of the country’s top liberal arts colleges. Students who failed to make the right college choice, will be assuming a huge amount of student loan debt, which they and their parents, will be paying for their college choice for many years into the future, whether they receive a degree or not.

Receiving a ‘Wake-up Call’ in the final days. Perhaps their grades and test scores did not reach into scholarship ranges; perhaps their top choice college did not offer the type of financial aid awards needed to avoid thousands of dollars in student loan debt; or, perhaps their gifts and talents were enough to gain an offer of admission, but not enough to receive a substantial scholarship offer—consequently, many students have made thoughtful decisions to begin their college experience in community college, with transfer plans into a 4-year institution. Such students have chosen to avoid assuming thousands of dollars in student loans, while developing comprehensive plans to attend community college, earn top grades, and qualify for transfer scholarships when they continue on into 4-year institutions to complete their undergraduate education. Other students will begin at lower-cost public institutions with similar plans of attaining top grades and earning their way into transferring, with scholarships in hand, to one of their top choice colleges.

Outcomes reflect work ethic. The activities assigned to cohort students over the course of the past year were designed to expand college admission and scholarship opportunities by putting as many pieces of the college planning puzzle into place as possible—taking the right classes, earning the right grades, attaining the right test scores, researching the right colleges, identifying the right scholarships, writing the right essays, and developing the right ‘hook.’ Additional pieces required developing high quality résumés, supported by high quality recommendation letters, undergirded by high quality teacher/counselor evaluations, and promoted through high quality email signatures, resulting in a distinguishable high quality ‘brand.’

As a result of their work, throughout high school, and through the college planning process, many students have been offered a huge amount of institutional grants and scholarships to reduce, or eliminate, their reliance on student loan debt. In our June newsletter and blog posting, we will share the complete list of colleges to which cohort students were offered admission and the staggering amount of scholarship money awarded to our 2017 seniors as we wish them well for the next phase of their journey.

What Should You Have Learned From the April Activities?

The April Blog posting outlined important milestones that you should have attained:

  • Milestone #1: An Academic Résumé
  • Milestone #2: Know Your Brand
  • Milestone #3: Email Signature
  • Milestone #4: Align Your GPA, Classes, and Scores with Your College Aspirations
  • Milestone #5: Know Who You Are

As a result of the January through April 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 and identified the colleges offering scholarships for your meritorious areas of achievement?

The ‘Common Data Set’ activity provided critically important insight into the type of students the colleges on your preliminary college list admit and the type of attributes each institution is seeking in structuring its freshman class. The ‘Teacher/Counselor Evaluations’ activity may have resulted in awkward conversations pertaining to how your counselor and current teachers evaluate you as a student. However, better now than later. Whatever, their assessment, knowing how you compare to others in your class, how your course schedule compares to others in your school, and whether or not you are distinguishing yourself through clubs, activities, and leadership in your community, will help you to predict your chances of making the first cut, i.e., ‘How You Compare to Students in Your School and Community.’ Depending on where you apply to college, you will be evaluated first, against students in your school and community, then against students in your school district, state, and country of national origin. Within each of these pools of students, you will be further evaluated based on your race, gender, socioeconomic backgrounds, and gifts and talents.

APs

The ‘Planning Your Course Schedule’ activity provided a context for seeking guidance from your parents, teachers, and counselor, whether developing your course schedule for your final year of high school, or outlining the 7-year middle-through-high school classes and grades needed to position yourself for being offered admission into top colleges and being offered generous need- or merit-based financial aid awards. The rigor of your course schedule, type of classes you chose to take, and grades earned will be carefully scrutinized by college admissions officers and scholarship providers. Their review will either identify you as a competitive candidate for being offered admission or a scholarship, or move your application to the bottom of the stack, behind those of thousands of other more qualified candidates.

The final April activity, ‘Commencement and Other Recognition,’ is a forward thinking activity, i.e., “How do I wish to be recognized at my high school graduation?” Identifying, and planning to qualify for recognition at your high school commencement exercises will offer memorable moments for your parents. However, having these areas of recognition reflected on your résumé and college applications will result in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship and financial aid offers.

May Activities

Building Blocks

The four assigned activities for May are designed to further focus your college and scholarship efforts and more clearly define your college list. Based on your projected EFC, as a result of having completed the ‘FAFSA—The Key to Unlocking Financial Aid’ activity, you must now focus your college research on institutions most closely aligned with your body of work (i.e., grades, test scores, gifts and talents) and your family’s financial circumstances. Students with high EFCs must focus their efforts on colleges and universities with merit-based scholarship opportunities, while students who qualify for the U.S. Pell Grant may expand their college research to institutions offering both need- and merit-based financial aid policies.

When constructing your college list, a sound approach is to identify colleges where your current ACT scores are within 2 points, and SAT scores within 100 points, of the median scores of admitted students. This will assure that you develop a ‘matched’ set of colleges. If you have not taken either the SAT or ACT, or currently have low test scores, you must thoughtfully revisit the previously assigned ‘Test Optional Colleges’ activity. To expand your college and scholarship opportunities, you must make every effort to achieve your target test scores no later than the June exam.

  1. Merit-based Aid
  2. The Net Price Calculator 
  3. Tuition Reciprocity Agreements
  4. Finalizing My College List

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned from the experiences of current seniors, is that your efforts will largely determine your outcomes. Completing the once weekly cohort activities is not something that must be done, “in addition to high school,” but must be done as a part of your high school experience. For example, this time last year, many cohort students deemed the ‘Diversity Weekends’ activity to be a waste of time if their top choice colleges did not offer diversity weekends. So instead of expanding their college list, they chose to be dismissive of the activity. One student made a very different decision, choosing instead to embrace the activity. As a result of her efforts in developing high quality diversity weekend applications and writing high quality essays, she was invited to diversity weekends at Amherst, Williams, Swarthmore, and Washington and Lee—all schools to which she subsequently applied for admission. Having developed a relationship with each of these schools, through their diversity weekend opportunities, the student was offered admission to all four schools, AND, offered full scholarships to all four schools. The students’ only regret is that she did not apply to even more diversity weekend opportunities, as many of the students whom she met at multiple diversity weekends were planning to attend a dozen or more such opportunities.

As previously stated, it is not about how many colleges to which you will be offered admission, but whether or not you will be offered admission by the ‘right’ colleges.

Monthly Meetings

Atlanta-area

We apologize for technical difficulties experienced in our April conference call. We will host our next conference call on Thursday, May 4, 2017 from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The phone number is 1-712-775-7031; Access Code is 761141.

Crossroads for Teens

We had a great April meeting with students and parents working from their laptop computers. We have nominated several students Discover Swarthmore and are excited about the number of students engaged in thoughtful research of liberal arts colleges and diversity weekend opportunities. Unfortunately, we will not be able to host a face-to-face meeting during May, but invite all students and parents to join us on the conference call.

Florence County School District 3

April was our final meeting with high school seniors and we are awaiting the dates for the summer boot camps for rising Middle College students, high school juniors, and high school seniors. ‘The Journey Continues,’ a celebration and awards presentation is planned for Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Lake City High School.

Guilford County Schools First Generation

We had a great April meeting. Our next meeting at the Guilford Technical Community College-Greensboro Campus will be on Saturday, May 20, 2017 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Turner Chapel AME Church 

graduation-ceremonyOn Sunday, May 28, 2017 we will host our 10th Annual Turner Chapel AME Church High School Graduation Celebration Worship Service (Marietta, GA), at which time we will be recognizing our graduating seniors, announcing their final college choices, and celebrating their journey with their families, coaches, teachers, counselors, and neighbors, who are all invited to share in the worship experience and message from Youth Pastor, Rev. Don Ezell. The worship service will begin at 9:30 am. Please join us as we celebrate the completion of one journey and beginning of another for both students and families. It is an awesome, inspiring, and spirit-filled worship service unlike anything that you have ever experienced.

United Ghana Christian Church

The monthly narratives being submitted by students in the United Ghana Christian Church Cohort continue to show great progress as a result of the hard work of students and support of mentors working together on the first Sunday of each month.

Students-Working-III

College Planning Boot Camps

This summer, we will be hosting a full schedule of College Planning Boot Camps. Our first Boot Camp will be held for rising 9th graders who will be attending the Judson ISD (TX) Early College Academy. The 3-day session will be held at Metzger Middle School from May 17 – 19, 2017, from 8:00 am – 2:30 pm. While the dates have not been finalized, Boot Camps are also planned for Florence County School District Three (SC) rising 9th, 10th, and 12th graders; and Austin ISD (TX) rising 9th graders in the Middle College Program and rising high school seniors.

 

April Activities

Important Milestones

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 letterscalculating 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..

Ron Smith
___________________________________
North Springs High School Class of 2018
GPA: 4.0; ACT 33 | Student Body President
National Honor Society | AP Scholar with Honor

Donna Smith
________________________________________
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.

Click here to visit our blog postings of Diversity Weekends…

April Activities

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:

  1. The Common Data Set
  2. Teacher/Counselor Evaluations
  3. Planning Your Course Schedule
  4. Commencement and Other Recognition

Important Reminder

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 cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com. 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.

Mark Your Calendar

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.

Cohort News

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.

Congratulations

  • 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.


Monthly Meetings

Atlanta-area

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.

Bermuda

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.

What were they thinking?

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.

March Activities

Pursuing Opportunities

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.

Click here to visit our blog postings of summer programs…

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.

Unpacking My Resume

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.

Using My Résumé to Set Goals

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.

PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ASVAB

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).

Important considerations:

  • 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.’

AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment

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.

Important considerations:

  • 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.

March Activities

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:

  1. Careers and College Majors
  2. Cooperative Education Programs
  3. Honors Colleges
  4. Diversity Weekends
  5. Developing a Preliminary College List (will also assist with preparing for college tours)
  6. Test Optional Colleges

Bonus Activities:

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.

Important Reminder

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 cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

Mark Your Calendar

  • 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.

Congratulations

  • 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.

Cohort News

Atlanta-area

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.

Bermuda

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.

Flash Drives

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.

February Activities

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 cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

The five assigned activities for February are:

  1. 2 million minutes
  2. Unpacking My Résumé
  3. Using My Résumé to Set Goals
  4. PSAT, SAT, ACT, and ASVAB
  5. 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.

Congratulations to Cohort Students

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...

January Activities

Welcome to the 2017 College Planning Cohort (TM) 

We have many important changes to our College Planning Cohort (TM) Program for 2017. The program will now operate on a calendar year from January through December. All students who joined the cohort in 2016 will receive a complimentary one-year renewal. As outlined in our College Planning Cohort Blog Posting, high school counselors are often responsible for 200 - 500 students or more and in extreme situations may be responsible for as many as 1,000 students ('The High School Guidance Counselor Shortage' Pratt 2013). When working with such a large number of students, it is unlikely that counselors can provide hands-on and longterm guidance to students, particularly those who are most in need, such as students from financially challenged families, those who will be the first in their family to attend college, students who are immigrants or undocumented, and students who are simply overwhelmed with the college planning process. First Lady Michelle Obama (in this video) provides encouragement for students. However, no matter how inspired students may be, they will need guidance and support through the college planning and scholarship processes.  College Planning Cohorts (TM) are designed to compliment the role of high school counselors by assisting students and families with developing 'Strategies' to maximize each student's K - 12 opportunities for gaining admission into the 'right' colleges and qualifying for the 'right' scholarships.

Note: Registration fees do not apply to participating students in Guilford County Schools (NC), Florence County School District 3 (SC), Lanier High School (TX), United Ghana Christian Church (GA), and with the Bermuda Youth Foundation.

However, as Ms. Obama notes, students and families must accept responsibility for seeking out the guidance and support of knowledgeable people to assist with their college planning--planning that must begin long before a student becomes a high school senior.

How are the activities assigned?

We publish a year-by-year schedule of the type of actions (College Planning Cohort Year-to-Year Actions) in which high school students should be engaged. Any student can freely download this guide. The College Planning Cohort Activities provide step-by-step guidance and support the year-by-year actions that students can:

Monthly activities are assigned on January 2, and on the first of each month thereafter throughout the calendar year. Registered cohort students may download assigned activities at no charge. Non-cohort students, parents, mentors, or teachers may download college planning activities from the Rising Sun Publishing website at a cost of $4.95 each. Parents and students unable to join a cohort, may select the activities most appropriate for their situation, such as developing a high quality résumé, researching colleges and scholarships, identifying 'test optional' schools, military pathways, writing high quality essays, and developing their 'brand.'

What should students do after completing each activity?

Each assigned activity is introduced by an 'Objective' and 'Guiding Questions.' Together, these are designed to clarify what students should learn from completing the activity and inspire deep thinking as students complete the lessons associated with each activity. Students who are serious about pursuing their college and career aspirations, should successfully complete the following 3 steps each month:

  1. Engage in conversations with their Small Group Coach (e.g., parent, counselor, teacher, coach, or mentor) sharing what they learn from each activity.
  2. Save an electronic document, with the activity name (e.g., activity_1.doc), onto a permanent digital media (e.g., flash drive, cloud, hard drive) and place a printed copy behind the appropriate tab in the student's College Planning Notebook
  3. After completing all of the assigned monthly activities, students are encouraged to submit a 1 - 2 page narrative to our experts, summarizing what they learned from each assigned activity, together with any questions.

Note: We will assist students with the critically important activity, "Developing an Academic Résumé."

How much time will be required to complete the activities?

Each activity provides an estimated time required to complete the activity. These times typically vary between 30 minutes to 2 hours. More comprehensive activities may have an undetermined amount of time based on each student's college/career aspirations. The activity schedule typically requires that students make a commitment to completing one activity per week, which can generally be completed on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

How will I know if I am completing the activity correctly?

Students and Small Group Coaches may email questions regarding any activity. However, all of the assigned activities are discussed in our monthly webinar, conference call, and face-to-face meetings. Monthly face-to-face meetings are scheduled for participating students in the Atlanta-area, with high school students in Florence County School District 3 (SC), First Generation Students in Guilford County Schools (NC), and students at the Bermuda Youth Foundation. The schedule of webinars and conference calls are communicated to all participating students via email and our monthly newsletters.

Overview of January's Activities

January's focus is all about preparation—preparation for engaging in the college planning process, and preparation for developing a 4-year academic and extracurricular activity involvement plan. January's activities will provide insight into each student's gifts and talents, and the types of plans that may be purposefully developed over the course of each year of high school, including summers, to assist each student in becoming a competitive candidate for college admission and scholarship consideration.

Clicking onto each activity will provide a link to the download. For registered students, the price will change from $4.95 to $0.00 at checkout.

  1. Activity 1: A Context for the Conversation
  2. Activity 2: My Profile
  3. Activity 3: What are My Gifts and Talents?
  4. Activity 4: Developing an Academic Résumé
  5. Activity 5: Self-Assessment
  6. Activity 6: Get Organized
  7. Activity 7: Summer Planning
  8. Activity 8: Social Media, Usernames, and Passwords
  9. Activity 9: Creating My Brand

These nine activities will serve to provide a context for the conversations between students and their small group coaches throughout 2017 and will guide the goal-setting activities in February.

Bonus Activity: Are you an athlete, musician, artist, dancer, or actor/actress? If so, do you have a résumé summarizing your achievements? Developing a Special-focus Résumé

Do you have questions for the experts?

The College Planning Cohort experience is focused on learning. However, learning is more than simply reading a book, watching a video, completing an activity, or writing a narrative. Learning is about all of these things and more—reading, writing, research, self-reflection, and engaging in conversations are individual learning activities.

However, combined together, they form comprehensive neural pathways to for developing critical thinking and achieving deep learning regarding the college planning process. Talk to any cohort student and they will tell you how much 'smarter' they are than their peers regarding college admissions and scholarships.

"Mr. Wynn, none of my teachers or the students at my school had ever heard of 'Diversity Weekends' or many of the colleges offering them."

"Mr. Wynn, I told my AP Language Arts teacher about the 'non-cognitive variables' considered when reviewing college applications and essays and her response was, 'What are non-cognitive variables?'"

The activities are designed to guide students through deep learning processes, shrink college knowledge gaps, expand college pathways, and reveal scholarship opportunities that will allow students and families to make the best college choice and avoid student loan debt. Students and parents who have questions that remain unanswered after completing the activities, or develop questions as a result of having completed an activity, may have their questions answered by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Students desiring expert feedback must submit a narrative summarizing what they learned from each of the assigned activities, together with any questions.
  • The narrative must be submitted in the MLA Format (as outlined in the 'Get Organized' activity
  • The subject for the document is "the month's activity summary" (e.g., January's Activity Summary)
  • Students must summarize all assigned activities, so that we are assured that the activities were completed
  • Submit up to one question per activity on the final page of the narrative summary
  • Submit the document to our team (in Microsoft Word document format) at:  info@collegeplanningcohort.com
  • We must receive the email by the final day of the month in which the activities were assigned

Summary

"What if I have a college-bound plan? I am taking advanced classes, earning good grades, and participating in school-based activities. Isn't that a good enough college-bound plan?" No! For each student taking honors-level classes and earning 'A's,' there are thousands of students taking AP-level classes and also earning 'A's.' For each student participating in school-based activities, there are thousands of students participating in school-based activities and serving as officers, receiving local and national awards, and creating their own companies and non-profit organizations. For each 'good' athlete, there are nearly 25,000 students who are the top athlete in their respective high school, and over a thousand athletes who are the top athlete in their respective sport and position in each of the 50 states (not to mention in the many other countries from throughout the world). Despite stellar academic credentials, each year, thousands of valedictorians and salutatorians are denied admission into their top choice colleges and do not receive top scholarships.

Developing a competitive college-bound plan requires focused, determined, and persistent effort. The assigned activities are designed to guide students and small group coaches through the process of conceptualizing comprehensive college-bound plans. However, whether or not a student gains admission into top colleges and qualifies for the necessary scholarships to pay for college will be, in part, based on each student's work ethic and personal commitment to following their plan.

Click here for the latest Scholarship Postings...

Click here if you have not signed up for the newsletter...