The College Process and What You Need to Know

By Mark Williams, Guidance Counselor, Upland Christian Academy

Mark1I think kids coming into college should know what to expect, considering I had no clue and no one ever told me how hard and stressful it would actually be. It would have been nice to have had a heads up.” – anonymous college freshman

This quote is all too familiar when speaking with college freshmen today. In fact, just the other day, I was talking with my child’s dental hygienist, and she explained a predicament her 17-year-old daughter was having at her high school. She told me that her daughter went to talk with the guidance counselor, and the counselor didn’t have time for her and made her feel she couldn’t ask any questions. She felt lost and didn’t know what she should be doing to prepare herself for college. This happens too often across America and is not acceptable.

Here at Upland Christian Academy my job as the guidance counselor is to make sure every student has the right information and knowledge of the college process. Because our school complies with the University of California (UC) a-g requirements, all of our students have the ability to apply to any college across the nation and have the approved requirements for graduating high school.

Individual meetings are conducted with every student, freshman through senior; and we discuss their goals, college aspirations, college scholarships and academic progress. These sessions last anywhere from 30 minutes, for students who have a good grasp on their college choices, to a full hour for the ones that need a little more guidance. The college scholarship aspect of the discussion is a major one. I make it my priority to give them as much scholarship information as possible so they know college is attainable from a financial stand point. My goal is to create an environment where students feel safe and comfortable to ask any questions they may have. My office is an open office where students are encouraged to stop by anytime to get help with their college and academic needs.

We host a college night and a financial aid night every year where we invite colleges to come out and speak to our parents and students. This year we have a representative from a private university, a California State school, and a UC system school. The goal of these nights are to provide information to parents on topics such as, financial aid, the application process and what their children need to be doing now for college.

As the guidance counselor of Upland Christian Academy, I will always strive to do my best to give our students the knowledge they need to succeed.