For high school seniors, applying to college is not only a tedious activity but an expensive one. This week, it was made a little less so thanks to the College Foundation of North Carolina and help from educators and community volunteers.
High schools in the city and county have been celebrating College Application Week, sponsored by CFNC, and during this week, many of the state’s colleges and universities waived their application fees, something many seniors were taking advantage of Thursday and earlier in the week.
Clinton High seniors Daekwon Waters and Kenan Lanier were among them
Waters had just completed his application to UNC-Wilmington when he was interviewed, and he said he was thrilled at the opportunity afforded him this week to pave the way for his future.
“This was a very great help,” Waters stressed. “The opportunity to sign up for college without the fee is helpful. It helped me get my first start toward my future. Now, I just want to got to college, graduate and be successful.”
Lanier was perusing the CFNC website, searching for possible scholarships. “It’s a great opportunity, particularly for students who might not have access to this stuff as easily. Everyone has an equal and fair opportunity and I think that’s great.” Lanier hopes to go to UNC-Chapel Hill or UNC-Wilmington where he wants to garner a degree in education, becoming a teacher and a coach.
CHS college adviser/scholarship coordinator Toni Blount said she had been pleased with the turnout for the day, which she and teachers/staff turned into a big celebration, donning college sweaters, sweatshirts and other attire to inspire the students and have a little fun.
At lunch Thursday, 51 students had taken advantage of the application process and Blount estimated that by day’s end over 80 seniors would have been in the media center’s computer lab.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity. It’s good because the students can come into this setting and have me, other counselors, teachers and community volunteers from the Credit Union and the community college over their shoulder, helping them out.”
It is also especially nice for first-generation college students and their parents, she said. “But, it’s even good for those who’ve been to college or had other students in college because this will be the first year there is no paper-pen applications. Everything is online, and we are helping students through the process.”
In Sampson County Schools, each of the seniors were given a scheduled time to report to their respective computer labs, affording them a chance to receive help from counselors and volunteers as they completed their applications.
Jessica Jackson, counselor at Union High School, stated that each of their seniors had a scheduled time to report to the computer lab on Wednesday or Thursday for a chance to work on applications.
“Applying to colleges can be very expensive with application fees. This week really helps out students and their families since many private colleges and some UNC System schools waive those application fees this week. A representative from the State Employees Credit Union came to assist our seniors on Tuesday,” reported Jackson.
At the Early College fifth year students participated in College Application Week.
“We are hoping to have all of our fifth year students applied to all colleges by December,” shared counselor Rebecca H. Barnhill.
Lakewood High School celebrated College Application Day on Wednesday. Lynn West, school counselor, explained that they over had 83 seniors who signed up to apply for college. The counselor stated any senior that had completed their applications would have a chance to work on scholarship applications.
Stephanie Goethie, counselor at Hobbton High School, stated that seniors at Hobbton had an opportunity to complete college applications during their senior English classes.
“We reserved the mini-laptops to give student who need assistance or have questions while filling out college applications to receive assistance during class time. Students who have already filled out applications or who have received acceptance letters had an opportunity to work on their graduation projects. Students who have English second semester will have an opportunity to complete their college applications during 4th period this week,” explained Goethie.
Larinda Haight, Midway High School’s counselor, stated that this week could not be possible if not for the volunteers that come help the seniors as they apply for college.
“At Midway we are meeting with all seniors in small groups in the computer lab to update their information on the College Foundation of North Carolina’s website which is the website where they can apply to any college in North Carolina. This website is also used to send transcripts to colleges. We are also going over the information for College Application Week with them and giving them the opportunity to complete all necessary background information that they will need to complete their applications. This is a wonderful program and it is good the College Foundation provides it each year. We are so appreciative to the many volunteers that come an help us with this process. I cannot imagine trying to answer 20 seniors at the same time while they are completing applications,” stressed Haight.
The Midway counselor also explained that College Applications was such a beneficial opportunity to the seniors because it allows them to have assistance to complete their applications but many of the schools waive the application fee which can run as high as $75.
Tammy Jackson and Tonya Sills, volunteers from the Dunn SECU, expressed that helping with College Application Week was just one of the many community outreach programs the SECU does. The two ladies have assisted for the past two years. Jackson also stressed that all area SECUs will be holding FASTFA Day from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, Feb. 23. They shared that walk-ins are welcome but encouraged seniors and their parents call for an appointment if possible.
Some of the seniors from Midway agreed to discuss how they felt about having the opportunity to work on their college applications at school.
Lauren Harrington said she was excited about the opportunity.
“I am really excited to start applying for college. It makes me feel grown up and I am ready to get on with my life,” stated Harrington.
Lauren applied at East Carolina University, Johnston Community College, Meredith University, Sampson Community College, Fayetteville Tech, Wake Tech and Pitt Community College. She stated that she was uncertain about a major.
“It is exciting to start thinking about going off to college,” expressed Harley Bass. “I am unsure about my major also but I wanted to apply now so I can get ready for school and growing up.”
Harley applied to Cape Fear, Methodist, Wake Tech, Pitt Community College and East Carolina University.
Kevin Aguirra-Rodriguez was glad to have an opportunity to have Oscar Rodriguez from Sampson Community College to assist him with his questions on applying to college.
“Having this opportunity has been very helpful. I want to be either a civil or electrical engineer. Mr. Rodriguez explained to me about the transfer program offered at Sampson Community. I applied at Sampson, Campbell and to N.C. State. I had a lot of questions and I appreciate all the help he gave me,” asserted Aguirra-Rodriguez.
Adam Bryant shared that he had already applied to N.C. State where he would like to major in Agriculture or Business but was in the computer lab to apply at Appalachian State University where he would pursue a degree in Archeology.
“Being able to complete my application here has been very beneficial. I am able to ask questions from the volunteers or Ms. Haight. They were able to help me understand all that is needed to successfully complete my application. I am thankful for the opportunity that College Application Week gave me to get my applications in,” said Bryant.
The seniors were also able to send that high school transcript along with their applications by sending them from school where that information could be generated.