FSGWA-December-2015.1 Our latest Academy meeting on College Application Tips was on held on Saturday, January 10th, at the CFSA building from 9:00-3:00. We started our day with fresh orange juice, bananas, and hot chocolate with marshmallows to warm up our cold bodies and wake up our sleepy brains in preparation of our very full day of learning.

To begin, students reviewed their ACT/SAT vocabulary words that were introduced in September, followed by a quiz on vocabulary words from the summer session.

We welcomed Ms. Peggy Lepp as our presenter who spent 21 years at the University of Mary Washington in the admissions office. Ms. Peggy jumped right into the prerequisites for the college application process by discussing the steps to get started, including college choice decisions, completing online application forms, collecting the necessary paperwork such as grades, transcripts, test results, letters of recommendations, FAFSA documents, improving essay writing skills, etc. Timelines were emphasized and the students received a checklist to help them with these tasks as well as interview tips, reminders to send thank you notes, and tracking the application for receipt and completion of all requirements. Additionally, students discussed the importance of abiding by timelines to accept an admission invitation, sending in deposits, and sending the final transcript. We discussed the importance of everything they are doing currently in high school now, including grades, taking personal responsibility, time management, follow through on tasks, communication skills, self-advocacy, extracurricular activities and confidence building.

We also discussed the benefits and dangers of social media and reiterated the importance of NOT POSTING any information or photos that could be damaging if seen by college or job personnel. Students were surprised to know that social media is scoured carefully by most institutions of higher education as well as by companies interested in a potential work candidate.

We took a break to enjoy our pizza lunch and celebrated our December and January birthdays with some delicious cake. We enjoyed a special treat of watching the student performance video at the Arena Stage from the December monthly meeting. Our students are so talented! Mr. Brian announced the Reading Plus awards and accomplishments by our hardworking students.

FSGWA-December-2015.2We then transitioned back to the college application process and used four small groups to study 40 college related words on flash cards. We formed two teams and had a fun and fast paced game using “coopetition” techniques to review the definitions. We then discussed the importance of the essay portion of the application. Ms. Peggy shared tips to make the essay really pop for the counselor committee teams that approve the applications to move forward to acceptance. She clarified that the essay needed to reveal the real values, hopes, beliefs, and dreams of the students. By writing in a concise yet personal way, students need to convince the team that they would be a great contributor and a good fit to the university community. Students then read aloud two essays that were models of exemplary writing.

Students asked a lot of questions and shared their excitement, current and future plans, confusion and concerns as they prepare for this next important step to higher learning. They had a chance to break into small groups and journal, followed by sharing circle time with the mentors. Everyone’s brains were packed full of new knowledge and handy tips by the time students were finished at 3:00. Whew! What a great day! We look forward to our next time together!

We give special thanks to Director Donald, Mr. Damian Miller and CFSA for allowing us to use the conference room, as well as thanks to the mentors, Mr. Brian, Ms. Amrit, Ms. Susan, Mr. Wayne, and all the volunteers who make the Academy a vibrant and robust learning experience!