Timeline helps students prepare for college


Eastside High School held its 2nd annual College Boot Camp in early August to help rising seniors. Here, rising senior Christopher Reddick writes his college admissions essay to the University of Florida.

Cleveland Tinker/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.

Preparing for the college admission process can be a daunting task for those familiar and unfamiliar with the process, but guidance counselors at Eastside High School have developed a list of things students and their families should be aware of to make the process a lot smoother.

Eastside, which had an 85 percent graduation rate last year, the highest in Alachua County according to its principal, Jeff Charbonnet, has created a culture where most students expect to go to college.

Charbonnet, who is entering his seventh year at Eastside, said all students are encouraged to take the most challenging courses available to boost their chances of getting into the college of their choice. And in an attempt to help seniors get acquainted with the college admissions process, Eastside held a "College Boot Camp" earlier this month that focused on things students need to know.

"The most important advice I would give to students is to take the most rigorous courses that are available to you at your high school," said Charbonnet. "Colleges want to see that you have challenged yourself by taking college level and college prep courses, so you need to be taking AP (Advanced Placement), IB (International Baccalaureate), Cambridge and honors courses."

Cynthia Markoch, a counselor at Eastside, said she and her colleagues have used various resources to compile an academic timeline for college planning for high school students. Below is a to-do list for juniors and seniors:

Juniors

* Take and do well in challenging courses.

* Take AP and/or IB tests if you have any AP or IB courses.

* Learn college entrance requirements.

* Understand the Bright Futures Scholarship Program requirements.

* Start the registration process with the NCAA Clearinghouse, if you are an athlete.

* Start talking to military recruiters, if you are interested in joining the military, and take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test.

* Document your community service hours and provide them to the school.

* Choose the schools you are interested in and learn their admission requirements.

* Know how many AP, IB and Dual Enrollment credits schools will accept.

* Compare academic appeal, cost, location and size of schools.

* Organize a filing system to keep important information together on each school you are interested in attending.

* Take the PSAT in mid-October to qualify for National Merit status.

* Register and take either or both the SAT and ACT. It is recommended to take the test twice, usually at the end of the junior year and at the beginning of the senior year.

* Attend local college fairs in the spring.

* Create an academic resume.

* Meet with guidance counselors near the end of the school year.

* Get familiar with www.FLVC.org to monitor community service hours, transcripts and status with Bright Futures.

* Visit colleges you are interested in during the summer.

* Use the summer to do something productive, such as, get a job, be a camp counselor or do community service work.

* Attend the Eastside "College Boot Camp" next summer.

Seniors

The following things need to be done in the fall:

* Continue to take the most challenging courses.

* Take AP and/or IB tests, if you are in AP or IB courses.

* Know requirements for Bright Futures.

* Register and take the ACT or SAT.

* Meet with your counselor to review your transcripts.

* Continue to monitor www.FLVC.org.

* Talk to college recruiters who visit the school and ask important questions.

* Establish a calendar with important deadlines for applications.

* Visit colleges on your list.

* Stay involved in extracurricular activities and sports.

* Choose someone who knows you and can add a personal touch to recommendation letters.

* Complete your academic resume.

* Continue to turn in all your community service hours. Remember: 100 hours will be needed for Bright Futures.

* Investigate and apply for scholarships.

* Complete all college applications and essays by the end of December.

* Make sure schools you are applying to are receiving your ACT and SAT scores.

* Make sure schools have received all of your important documents.

The following things must be done in the spring:

* Start the financial aid process in January.

* Check your financial aid SAR (Student Aid Report), when received.

* Inform colleges that you will be enrolling.

* Adhere to deadlines for orientations, dorm room assignments, meal plans and course registration.

Charbonnet, who said the counselors did a great job compiling the timeline, added that Eastside students and their families have more resources at the school and in the community to help them prepare for college.

He mentioned the Diamonds, National Society of Black Engineers Pre-Collegiate Initiative and Southeastern Consortium of Minority Engineers as programs at the school that help students prepare for college.

He also said Eastside is partners with the Progressive Academic Success Strategies program at Sante Fe College that features 60-minute workshops that outline strategies for success at SF College and the services provided by Mike Powell & Associates Athletic, Academic and Scholarship Inc. are worthwhile.

"All of those programs and services are available to our students and we encourage our students to take advantage of all of the resources that can help them get to college," said Charbonnet.

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