The journey to the future begins now and Frisco ISD’s College Week helps guide the way. Events and activities across the District will engage students from kindergarten to senior year the week of September 19-23.
Teachers and staff will display their college diplomas, spirit wear and pennants, and counselors will be hard at work encouraging juniors and seniors to attend the Frisco ISD College Fair on September 21 at Heritage High School. Students should register for the evening at www.gotocollegefairs.com.
A second FISD College Fair open to all high school students regardless of grade level will be held in January.
The first visit to a college fair can be overwhelming to some parents and students due to the numbers of colleges and universities participating. But most parents and students get caught up in the excitement of visiting booths and talking to representatives. For many students, it is when the concept of leaving home and attending college becomes reality.
Claudia Velez and son Cristian Velez, who is now a senior at Independence High School, attended last year’s College Fair. They visited booths and left with an armload of brochures. Cristian told his mother that the energy and attitude of some of the recruiters helped him have a feeling for what the climate of the school might really be like.
“Cristian loves marching band and hopes to be able to continue band in college,” says Mrs. Velez. “We also began seriously talking about his major and what environment would suit him best.”
The Velez family has trimmed their list to three universities. They are in the process of finishing campus visits and beginning the application process.
In addition to the annual College Fair, families also rely on high school counselors, who play a major role in helping students and parents through the entire process of deciding where to apply, keeping up with SAT/ACT testing dates, finding financial aid and scholarship opportunities and gathering letters of recommendation. Their input is especially valuable to students who may be the first in the family to apply for college or just the first student in the family to go through today’s modern process – much of which is online.
Kelli Chandler, lead counselor at Frisco High School, is very aware of the responsibility that counselors carry to assist students in seeking the next level of education – be it directly to college, a technical school or other post-high school training. This is an example of knowing the name and need of students in action. During the last two years of education, counselors are constantly communicating with students and parents about steps involved in graduating and pursuing further education.
FISD counselors recently compiled several resources highlighting changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), including videos, a calendar to remind parents about what tax information is needed and more. The information is listed here on Frisco ISD Guidance and Counseling website.
Chandler and her team look for ways to best reach parents outside of emails and newsletters. She attends booster club meetings to give college information to parents. Her counterparts throughout the District create guidebooks for juniors and seniors to remind them of all the things they should be doing to be post-secondary ready. The counselors also meet with juniors to discuss their transcripts, graduation plans and college or career plans.
At Frisco High School, the staff and faculty remind students of the importance of college all year long. On the 17th of each month, employees plan to wear their college spirit wear to spark interest among the students and help start conversations about college, Chandler said.
Reedy and Centennial high school counselors engage students in trivia games and other activities during College Week to encourage students to attend one of the two college nights offered during the school year. The other campuses have their own traditions, which might include the teacher wearing his or her graduation gown to school, decorating classroom areas, etc. Everyone is on board to help students see further advanced education as a reality.
“Counselors write letters of recommendation and also assist teachers who are asked to write letters for students,” Chandler noted, which makes being aware of each student’s academic and social strengths important. Counselors also have resources concerning scholarships that they share regularly with students and parents.
Most of the schools, including the Career and Technical Education Center, have Go Centers provided by area colleges where college students mentor and work with students in a computer lab. This relationship with students already on their college path is a great way for students to explore their future with someone who is more of a peer than teachers and parents.
The CTE courses themselves are also a great way for students to explore their career interests and potential college majors. The school has a wide variety of programs where students gain valuable skills in areas such as video game design, architecture, microbiology, law enforcement, audio/video production and much more. A series of informational events called Hub Nights are scheduled this fall for middle and high school students and parents.
For those interested in scholarships for college, high school seniors and parents should note that the Frisco Education Foundation scholarship application will go live online November 28. To date, the Foundation has awarded 4,984 graduating FISD seniors scholarships totaling over $4.2 million. The deadline for filing for this year’s scholarships is 4 p.m. on December 16.
The Foundation also maintains a list of outside scholarship opportunities on its website.