Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera Program Partner Spotlight – The College Blueprint

The College Blueprint, one of Generation 1st Degree’s programs aimed at helping kids succeed in college, is busy at work providing professional college planning and test preparation guidance for students throughout the school year. This summer, they enjoyed hosting a College Planning Summer Intensive Program for the Class of 2016.

On a warm Monday morning in July, while other teenagers were sound asleep, 55 students arrived at El Rancho High School eager to explore their paths to college. Most will be the first in their family to attend a four-year university and all were determined to obtain a college degree in order to build a solid foundation for their future.

Sponsored by Generation 1st Degree, and designed by Jan Kerchner and Marla Kelley, this Summer’s Intensive College Blueprint Program for the Class of 2016 was a great success. In six sessions over a two week period students were guided by experienced College Blueprint counselors through Career Exploration, College and Major Research and Scholarship Research. The students even participated in a mock admission committee in which they determined whether applicants were offered or denied admission to their fictitious college, based on application data and personal statements. By the end of the program each student had the opportunity to formulate a personalized college list, and complete a resume.

“One of the most challenging components of the program is for each student to brainstorm, draft and finalize a personal statement essay for their college applications,” said Marla Kelley. She taught a workshop to provide an overview approach to the essay writing process, then brought in Essay Coaches Jordan Kelley, Jason Lee and Andre Na to work one-on-one with each student to accomplish that challenge. “It is a privilege and a great opportunity for me to help these students tell their stories in a way that demonstrates to college admission officers where they come from and who they are,” said Jordan Kelley, who also served as an essay coach in last summer’s college planning program.

“The student feedback was very positive,” commented Jan Kerchner, founder and Director of The College Blueprint. “There was a great appreciation for the counselors’ knowledge, and the opportunities for individual consultation and editing with the essay coaches.”

On the last day of the program the students were treated to some surprises. The Essay Coaches shared some of their favorite essays, anonymously. Reading them aloud, each coach ended to appreciative applause from the students in respect for the stories written by their peers. As the scent of Papa John’s pizza filled the library, Jacki Cisneros, founder of the Generation 1st Degree Foundation, appeared with prizes for the final day raffle.

Students were given raffle tickets for attendance and for participating in spirit wear opportunities. Lucky students won gift cards to In-N-Out and Starbucks and one student won the grand prize, a Chromebook donated by Assistant District Superintendent Dr. Roxane Fuentes.

Finally, the students enjoyed their lunch, goodbyes and hugs were given, and 55 rising seniors at El Rancho High School left the program with an essay, a college plan and high hopes for their future.