Back to School? Get the Summer Rewind

Over the Summer, Generation 1st Degree-Pico Rivera’s Be A Leader – Senior Boot Camp program prepared incoming seniors for the college application process. The Senior Boot Camp provided sixty-five students with the opportunity to participate in a series of college preparation workshops that took place on a college campus. Students benefited from the program’s guidance in the college admission application process and also learned how to craft a resume, an activity that helped many of the students secure summer internships and jobs.

Selfie by comedian Ernie G. Gritzewsky with Bryan Cortes, Alejandra Gomez, Michelle Sandoval, and the students

Students participated in six group sessions and two one-on-one sessions with our project manager, Michelle Sandoval. One area of focus was on peer and professional editing of resumes as well as writing and editing the students’ college personal statements. Students received a visit from UCSB Admissions officials to discuss the UC application and how to successfully be admitted to UCSB specifically. The students received a visit from a career panel, which included comedian Ernie G. Gritzewsky and inspirational speaker Bryan Cortes. The panelists’ overall goal was to empower the students to “Be A Leader.” The students also had the opportunity to visit and explore college campuses including Pomona and Pitzer Colleges.

Julio Ornelas, the Vice President of the Be A Leader Club, said, “One thing that I learned from the Summer Boot Camp is that I can afford college with the help of grants, loans, and many scholarships.” Other students applied what they learned and had immediate results like Isaiah Avina, who landed his first summer job at Hollister following the resume writing workshop. Leanne Payan shared, “I learned how to build a resume at the Be A Leader Boot Camp.” Leanne successfully received an offer to be an intern at a law firm in Los Angeles. She spent four weeks over summer shadowing a lawyer and helping him maintain the medical records for his clients’ cases.

Now that the Be A Leader Senior Boot Camp program is a wrap, participating students will be ready to take on the challenge of completing their college applications this Fall!

Scholarships: Apply for as MANY as You Can!

Many of our senior high school students have been working overtime to complete personal essay statements and put finishing touches on their college applications. I am so proud of the commitment they’ve poured into these last few weeks leading up to college application deadlines. With that said, I want to remind students and parents that after college applications are submitted, the work is not yet done.

November was National Scholarship Month, I thought it was fitting to talk about how important it is for our students to reach and apply for scholarships – and not just one or two scholarships, but 15 to 20!

We all know college tuition is expensive. However, students and their families can offset a large percentage of those fees through scholarship money. The most wonderful thing about scholarship money is it is an award, meaning you do not have to pay the money back. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that our students are going off to college without carrying the burden of large student loans.

Here are a few tips and strategies on how to approach scholarship applications:

  1. Think about what makes you unique. Create a list of characteristics that describe who you are, including your ethnic background, hobbies, passion, group associations (such as Girl Scouts of America), even illnesses or personal challenges you’ve overcome.
  2. Next, head to the College & Career Office and look for two large scholarship resource books. Using the list you created in step 1, begin to look for scholarships that were created to give financial assistance to students like you. Also do some online research because you might stumble upon a new scholarship. There are tons of scholarships offered for a variety of characteristics and personality traits. Be creative with your search—you might hit a goldmine!
  3. Create a scholarship fundraising goal and back it up with a plan. Think about the tuition costs for the most expensive school you’ve applied to and map out the scholarships you need to get as close to that amount as possible.
  4. I recommend applying for at least 15 scholarships. However, keep in mind the more scholarships you apply to, the greater the chance of reducing out-of-pocket tuition fees.
  5. Diversify and sweat the small stuff. While it may feel tedious to apply to several smaller scholarships, the possibility of being awarded the smaller amounts is greater. It’s true that the larger the scholarship amount, the more competitive it becomes to earn the amount. While I still recommend applying for the larger ones, I also strongly encourage students to mix it up.

6. Find more information right here:

Keep in mind your fundraising goal and note that a combination of several scholarships ranging from $250 to $5,000 can add up. And if you’re awarded a large scholarship in addition to the smaller ones, consider it icing on the college cake!

If you start to burn out filling out scholarships, think about this as motivation: There’s a huge difference trying to earn $3,000 through a summer job versus $30,000, or worse having to decline your dream school due to financial constraints. Getting accepted into your dream college is a HUGE milestone and one you should be proud of. Be prepared to confidently accept that offer by putting in the work now to financially support the tuition costs later.

Good luck and keep up the momentum for getting to your dream college. As always, we are here for support!