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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