Welcome to the new student-led College Cohort News. While our 2021-22 college planning cohort youth leadership board is primarily responsible for the content of the newsletter, any cohort student or cohort alumni may submit articles to the board containing content of interest to students. Our students have hands-on insight into attending technical schools, liberal arts colleges, research universities, HBCUs, dual degree programs, and cooperative education programs. They have received full scholarships to a broad range of colleges and universities and have received such private scholarships as Jack Kent Cooke, Gates, Odyssey, Ron Brown, and Torch. Consequently, their testimonials and firsthand insight can further guide students into a plethora of college, career, and scholarship pathways. 

Mission Statement

The college planning cohort youth leadership board’s mission is to inspire and offer student-based testimonials that will motivate students to keep striving for their very best. Everyone is on their own personal journey when planning for their future; however, we all share the common goal to find future college and career pathways aligned with our education/career aspirations and financial need. We plan to serve the college planning cohort by being resilient, optimistic, and showing compassion towards others in support of their dreams and aspirations for the future.

Who We Are

The college planning cohort youth leadership board is composed of a diverse group of committed high school students, and a college adviser, from different schools, grades, school districts, states, and backgrounds. We collaborate to create an interactive community with student-driven content focused on supporting and celebrating participating students. We hope to serve the community, give advice, serve as mentors and role models, and help make the cohort a safe space that inspires, informs, encourages, and celebrates students.

On Her Way to Johns Hopkins

Jocelyne L. (St. Petersburg High School)

Hello, I’m Jocelyne. I would like to tell you about my older sister, Joanne. My sister, a senior in the IB Program at St. Petersburg High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been offered admission, together with a full scholarship, to Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins is one of the most selective schools in the US and is ranked #9 on the US News and World Reports National University Rankings (tied with Northwestern). Not only is Johns Hopkins her top choice school (where she will major in biology), but the scholarship is a huge blessing for our family. The only things not covered by her scholarship are indirect costs, such as travel expenses and personal expenses. 

My sister became involved in the cohort in her sophomore year of high school after hearing me go on and on about how wonderful the program was. At the time, I was in the 7th grade and had just completed the Pinellas County Schools College Planning Boot Camp for Middle School Students. As a seventh grader, I could not join a cohort, but she could—and she did!

In interviewing her for this article, she noted,

“Through my participation in the cohort, I learned so many things that I would not have learned anywhere else such as the differences between liberal arts colleges and research universities, where I should apply Early Decision versus Regular Decision, and the financial aid policies of all of my top choice colleges. Knowing that Emory, Rice, Stanford, Duke, UPenn, and the University of Chicago would have all offered comparable institutional scholarships, there was no need to apply regular decision to ‘see if I could get in’ when I had a clear top choice—Johns Hopkins. So after being offered admission, via Early Decision to Johns Hopkins, I withdrew all of my other applications.”


Fly-in Programs

Jayla J. (Lake City Early College High School)

Whether referred to as a Fly-in Program or Diversity Weekend, it is an opportunity created by a college or university that allows underrepresented high school students (e.g., students of color, first generation, rural students, LBGTQ, etc.) to visit their campus. Students will have the opportunity to better understand the college’s academic programs, financial aid process, campus life, and gain a cost-free experience of what it would be like to attend the school. Fly-in programs are commonly offered by highly selective private liberal arts colleges rather than a typical state university. Academically accomplished students who come from one of the underrepresented groups, such students who will be the first in their family to attend college, or those from lower income families (like myself) are on the radar of private liberal arts colleges and some research universities seeking to offer admission to students from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.

I was once one of the many students who had never heard of a fly-in program and I was completely unaware of the benefits that being invited to one of these programs could have on my being offered admission to such colleges.  

“Being a top academic student, having many extracurriculars, and doing some community service is not enough to be considered a highly competitive applicant. Fly-in programs are often more competitive than applying to the actual school for a number of reasons. Once the college or university identifies that they want to offer you an opportunity to visit their campus, they are investing in you by covering all of the expenses of flying you in, lodging, meals, and transportation, which could amount to thousands of dollars. Colleges want to give high performing academically accomplished low-income students, who would not get the opportunity to visit the campus otherwise, a chance to see their potential school. This may allow you to have an advantage when applying to the school because the college has demonstrated their interest in you.”

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Yale Young Global Scholars

Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)

Congratulations to Jayla, a junior in our Florence School District 3 Cohort, and Omar, a junior in our Atlanta-area Cohort who have been invited to attend the 2022 Yale Young Global Scholars Program. An announcement of Omar’s selection has been posted to the Dallas New Era Facebook Page. Jayla will be interviewed today by a local television station. Both Jayla and Omar serve on our youth leadership board, are participants in Rev. Dr. Yolanda Davis’ discussion group, and have made invaluable contributions to our program. They have been intentional in developing the body of work to make themselves competitive candidates for being accepted into such highly competitive programs. There is only one other student in the history of Jayla’s Lake City, South Carolina high school to be accepted into the Yale Young Global Scholars Program (a member of our 2015 cohort who has received her degree from Wake Forest University). To our knowledge, Omar is the first student from his Dallas, Georgia high school to be accepted into the program. This promises to be a busy and unforgettable summer of 2022 for both of these high school juniors.

The Undebatable Relatables

Jocelyne, Anna, and JoJo

The Undebatable Relatables is a student-developed podcast. The brainchild of Pinellas County Schools’ ninth grader, Jocelyne L. (who also developed the artwork). The podcast is a collaborative effort of Pinellas County Schools’ ninth graders, Jocelyne, Anna, and Josiah (JoJo) that provides informative content by 3 exceptional students, all of whom serve on our youth leadership board.

Episode 1:Why Are We Here?: Jocelyne, Anna, and JoJo share their cohort experiences and how they are using the information to assist their families in avoiding student loan debt and expanding their own college access. They candidly share their initial confusion as middle school students regarding college and careers; how they discovered their gifts and talents; and how they have benefitted by their involvement with college-bound students holding similar aspirations, while being supported and guided by college students serving as mentors and advisers.

Episode 2:Relationships Romantic? Nah… Friendships!: In episode 2, Jocelyne, Anna, and JoJo share their thoughts regarding the importance of friendships and social relationships. They provide tips and strategies for avoiding conflicts and developing healthy relationships. They share their thoughts regarding the forced COVID-19 quarantine and its impact on relationships and the essential nature of supportive human contact. They also share their experiences in making their first friends in high school.

Episode 3:Productivity Tips!: In episode, Jocelyne, Anna, and JoJo share their tips for studying, completing homework, and dealing with the overall stress of school. They candidly acknowledge the challenges of typical high school students and share the strategies they are using to balance schoolwork, homework, and extracurricular activities. Jocelyne shares interesting insight into using Khan Academy math videos; Anna shares insight into prioritizing tasks, productivity, and self motivation; and JoJo shares how to balance the therapeutic value of video games with managing your time.

April Discussion Groups (4/9/22)

Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)

Both the April and May modules are now open. Our April Discussion Groups will be our final discussion groups for the 2021-22 school year. At our April meeting, we will be looking for the best presentations for awarding our final Presentation Award of the 2021-22 school year. We encourage parents to attend the April meeting and to be prepared with any questions regarding what your students have learned and their college-bound plans going forward. On May 14, our final meeting of the 2021-22 school year, we will host our 2022 Senior Recognition and allow students and parents to share their thoughts regarding the impact of our program in their college planning and college planning outcomes. We are particularly looking forward to hearing from some of our seniors and their parents.

Part 3 of our 3-part Pinellas County Schools College Planning Sessions

Rising 6th Grade Students and Parents (Thursday, April 28, 2022)

At this time next year, current Pinellas County Schools 5th grade students will be middle school students. We will be hosting the final session of our 3-part Pinellas County Schools College Planning Sessions for Rising 6th Graders sponsored by the Title I Programs Office. We will discuss the critical actions to be taken by students and parents throughout each student’s 7-year middle school through high school journey. We will show the connections between these actions and such programs as the Gates Scholarship, LEDA, Ron Brown Scholarship, Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, and Stamps Scholarship. Our outstanding Title I Student Panel will share experiences of how they are intentionally pursuing pathways into top colleges and full scholarships. This promises to be an exciting and inspiring session!

We will also be providing an overview of the Pinellas County Schools Summer College Planning Boot Camp for middle school students. Bring your questions, be prepared to take notes, and be inspired to place your student onto a full college scholarship pathway!

Stay Tuned…For Full Scholarships

Mychal Wynn (Northeastern) 

May 1 is College Decision Day, so we will be announcing the college enrollment decisions for our Class of 2022. We are overjoyed with the number of students who will be attending college on full scholarships and the number of students offered admission to their top college choices. For some of our students, people at their respective high schools will wonder, “How did he get into the University of Southern California when so many other students got rejected?” Or they will question, “How did she get so many full scholarship offers, when the Class Valedictorian did not get one full scholarship?” Perhaps the most amusing question will be that of a school counselor who wonders, “How did he get a full scholarship to Claflin University? I have never heard of Claflin University!”

For those students who do high school, but who do not have time to do college planning, we hope for the best. However, for our students who are embracing college planning, they are “Planning” for the best. Stay tuned…

College Planning Boot Camps

Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)

We are finalizing our summer college planning boot camp schedule. We will be offering two Pinellas County Schools boot camps—one for middle school students (June 6 – 9) and one for high school students (June 13 – 16). We will also be continuing our summer boot camps in Florence School District 3 in Lake City, South Carolina, for high school students. 


Pinellas County Schools (FREE):

Monday – Thursday; June 6 – 9, 2022: (Grades 6 – 8) from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm daily. At this time, planned sessions are all virtual. Click here to register for the Middle School Boot Camp…
Monday – Thursday; June 13 – 16, 2022: (Grades 9 – 12) from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm daily. At this time, planned sessions are all virtual. Click here to register for the High School Boot Camp…

Open to the Public:

Middle School Students (grades 6 – 8 ) – June 20 – 23, 2022 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm): 
High School Students (grades 9 – 12) – June 20 – 23, 2022 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm): 

Middle School Students (grades 6 – 8 ) – June 27 – July 1, 2022 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm): 
High School Students (grades 9 – 12) – June 27 – July 1, 2022 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm): 

Florence School District 3 (FREE):

High School Students (rising 9th graders) – July 11 – 14, 2022 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm): 
High School Students (grades 10 – 12) – July 18 – 21, 2022 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm): 

Summer College Planning Support

Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)

Each summer, we develop our summer programming based on the needs of our school district partners and inquiries received throughout the school year. This summer, we will be offering:

  • One-on-one support for rising high school seniors in developing comprehensive senior-year college admissions strategies and assistance in selecting essay topics and finalizing college essays prior to the beginning of a stressful senior year.
  • Essay writing workshops throughout the summer.
  • One-on-one sessions for students in grades 8 – 11, who may unable to join a cohort, but who would like to ensure that they have a comprehensive college-bound plan. 
  • Writing assistance for students who want to become better writers.

Contact us and tell us what you need: cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com or call (678) 395-5825

Facebook Postings…

We post important content regularly to our College Planning Cohort Facebook Page. Please ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ our page so that you stay up to date on the latest in college planning news.

Mark Your Calendar

Monthly Cohort Meeting: The second Saturday of each month.
April 9, 2022 (Saturday), 10:00 am – Noon: Monthly Cohort Session for participating students in graders 9th – 11th (click here to register; Meeting ID: 884 7893 8939). Note: The session is only opened to registered students and parents. Email cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com to request a Guest Pass.

April 28, 2022 (Thursday), 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm: Pinellas County Schools Title I College Planning Session 3 of 3 for Rising 6th Graders and Parents (click here to register; Meeting ID: 834 3621 3764). Note: You must register to gain entry into the session. For more information, Email Dr. Lewis Brinson – brinsonle@pcsb.org.

Florence School District 3 Writing Sessions (Monday and Wednesday) – 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm — Any Grade (click here to register; Meeting ID 892 5369 6183).

Florence School District 3 Cohort Sessions (Tuesday and Thursday) –
 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm — 9th – 12th Grades (click here to register; Meeting ID 868 3691 5004). 

May 14, 2022 (Saturday), 10:00 am – Noon:
 Senior Recognition and Final Meeting of the 2021-22 School Year (click here to register; Meeting ID: 884 7893 8939). The session is opened to anyone who would like to share in our celebration of seniors. Email cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com to request a Guest Pass.

Need Writing Support?

We will offer summer writing support for elementary school through high school students. For rising high school seniors, the sessions will provide guidance in selecting a Common Application topic; writing college essays and personal statements; and responding to writing prompts. During this time of holistic admissions, college essays are more important than ever. Email cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com for more information or to reserve your space.

Want to Join a Cohort?

ASA Guide Right Black Male Mentoring Program:
Contact Doug Lucas: dlucasjr@aol.com
Pinellas County Schools (FL): Contact Dr. Lewis Brinson, Minority Achievement Officer: brinsonle@pcsb.org
Florence School District 3 (SC): Contact Ms. Kendra Wilson, High School Guidance Counselor: kwilson@fsd3.org
What to join our National Cohort? Click here to learn more…