ERHS Parents Learn About the College Route

It was standing room only as parents attended Generation 1st Degree partner’s, the Be A Leader Foundation, College 101 Parent Workshop at El Rancho High School during the first week of fall.

Parents took notes and listened attentively as our Be A Leader Project Manager, Alma Renteria, walked them through what it takes to get into California State University (CSU), University of California (UC), and private schools across the country.

She discussed the grade point average (GPA) range that each student should aim for and stressed the importance of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses in their sophomore and junior years. She also went into depth on the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. While the SAT Subject Tests are not required, she highly recommended that students take subject tests that relate to a major they’ll be focused on in college.

“Regardless of which one they’re writing, I encourage you to ask your kids questions about their personal statements. Ask them to read it out loud to you and encourage them to give more details,” she emphasized.

Ms. Renteria reminded parents that the College and Career Center is an important resource on campus. There, they can answer questions about financial aid and provide additional resources, such as help with fees for taking the SAT & SAT Subject Tests. “Don’t make money an excuse, there are fee waivers that can be used to pay for these tests,” she said.

Frances Aparicio, whose daughter is a senior and participates in Generation 1st Degree’s Be A Leader and College Blueprint programs, is grateful for workshops like this one.

“These programs have exposed my daughter to many different colleges. She now knows what to be asking for, what majors to look into and what schools to consider. Having these resources is tremendously helpful,” added Ms. Aparicio.

Briseis Pipkins, also a senior at ERHS, attended the workshop with her grandmother.

“Before being part of Be A Leader, I was really lost and didn’t know what colleges I wanted to get into or what I wanted to major in. I’ve gotten so much information. It’s very exciting and I’m very confident in applying to schools now,” said Briseis.

Crossing the Distance

By Lorena Rodriguez – El Rancho High School alumni and freshman Cross Country Runner at the University of La Verne

At a very early age my parents taught  my two younger brothers and me how to read and write by having us copy passages out of books and magazines. Later, we progressed to weekend tutoring with my mom on subjects that we struggled with. I was a great student in elementary school. Many people believed I’d live a promising life because I was so involved in clubs and activities. Despite knowing that money was tight, our parents never discouraged our dreams of going to college.

When I was in eighth grade, we lost our family home and found ourselves practically homeless. Thankfully, my tio and tia took us in and gave us some peace of mind. Losing our home scared me more than anything else I’ve lived through. My dreams of going to college diminished. Adding on to our troubles and financial problems, my mom had a cancer scare in December of that same year. It was through the difficult periods of my high school life that I discovered great programs at El Rancho High School to help me achieve my dreams.

Through my participation in the Be A Leader Foundation, I learned the importance of networking and having a professional outlook. Alma, the program’s Project Manager, was a very supportive figure in my life. She was always available when I needed help understanding my financial aid packets and helped me to narrow down which college was the best fit for me. In order to enrich my studies and guarantee my success, the foundation assisted me in finding certain aspects of a school that were truly important to me as a student.

I also attended The College Blueprint program, which held a rigorous summer boot camp. This changed my life completely. They guided me along the process of writing my personal statement. After countless hours and close to eleven critiqued drafts, I completed a very effective personal statement. This program also taught me how to select schools efficiently by narrowing them down by program, price range and the distance away from home. In essence, they helped me take a major leap in making one of the biggest decisions of my life.

In addition, I applied for the 2015 Frank Terrazas Generation 1st Degree Scholarship and when I received the news that I’d been chosen as a scholarship recipient, I nearly jumped for joy in the middle of campus. The scholarship not only helped alleviate a huge financial burden but it also helped with my substantial commuter expenses.

Thanks to the help of these Generation First Degree programs, I am now able to attend the University of La Verne. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be able to attend an institution that suits my needs and that is so devoted to the student body and the community. I never thought I’d fall in love so much with my university and field of study, Kinesiology.

I give thanks every day for my hard working parents and their support. Seeing me attend college is just one of the many milestones and achievements in their lives.

Life doesn’t always pan out perfectly but I’m very pleased where my life is headed, not only as a Cross Country competitor and a student at the University of La Verne, but as a role model for younger generations. It’s been a long journey but it’s a heck of a great beginning to a beautiful four years ahead.


First College Day at ERHS a Remarkable Success

On a cool October morning, a gym full of excited seniors set the day’s pace at El Rancho High School’s first ever College Day.

For their underclassmen, it was a day filled with important tests. While freshmen and sophomores took the PSAT, a practice test for the SAT, juniors were prepared and confidently took their SAT’s.

All seniors attended a California State University (CSU) Application/CCGI workshop, where they had the chance to submit their applications to the CSU system. They also attended two additional workshops of their choice. The day was designed to offer a variety of workshops tailored for all students.

“The entire school day provided students with the knowledge and skills to make a decision about what to do after high school. We offered seniors workshops on STEM as well as offered a resume and interviewing workshop for those students who are applying to private universities or will be working right after high school,” explained Juan Raygoza, Assistant Principal of Student Services.

Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera’s partner programs, The College Blueprint, the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) and the Be A Leader Foundation, played an integral role in leading the senior workshops for the day.

Marla Kelley, with the College Blueprint, presented a workshop on how to write a personal statement. “We’re bringing part of our program to ERHS, right in the middle of college application season. The personal statement can really make a difference in a student’s application. Specifically as first generation students, it’s important for them to point out who they are and where they come from. It takes the reader beyond the student’s test scores. I see the personal statements as leveling the playing field,” said Ms. Kelley.

Cecilia Leyva, from the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP), talked to students about UC personal statements and how to prepare for the writing prompts. “I always ask them to bring their transcripts and a list of the activities they’ve been involved in and the awards they’ve received. I’ll then give them feedback and tell them if they’re answering the writing prompts correctly,” she explained.

Regardless of the workshop topics, everyone agreed that the day was a success. A lot of positive came out of this day. We can’t do this work alone. As educators, we do the best we can to talk to students on a daily basis about college. The benefit of having these partnerships is that we build on their expertise. Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera and their partner programs such as EAOP, The College Blueprint, and Be A Leader, we rely on these partnerships to also work closely with our students,” said Raygoza.

Both school administrators, and Generation 1st Degree Pico Rivera, believe it is important that high school students start learning about college in their freshman year. The earlier they are prepared, the more empowered they will be to make decisions about their future.

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