Newsletter: November 1, 2020
Mychal Wynn (Northeastern ’79)
November 1 Early Decision and Early Action Deadlines
Today is an important deadline for thousands of high school seniors applying to colleges via Early Decision and Early Action. Applying to colleges via Early Decision is a strategy that has historically given advantage to students from affluent families who are not as dependent on financial aid as students from lower and middle income families. However, by guiding students in thoughtfully developing a list of schools with need-based and ‘no-loans’ financial aid policies, many cohort students will maximize their chances of being offered admission by applying Early Decision to selective colleges and universities offering generous need-based scholarships and grants. Students will also maximize their opportunities for being awarded merit-based institutional scholarships and grants by meeting today’s Early Action deadline for hundreds of colleges and universities.
Despite COVID-19 related school closures last March, our then high school juniors, continued working through our online activities, and attending our virtual sessions to finalize their college and scholarship research, write essays, and plan their college admissions strategies. As a result of their efforts, most students entered their senior year focused on developing high quality college application packages for their Early Decision and Early Action schools. Those efforts have paid off with many cohort students having already received multiple acceptances from schools to which they applied by October 15 Early Action deadlines.
FAFSA Completion Sessions
The FAFSA filing period for students applying for financial aid for the 2021-22 academic year opened on October 1. During October, we hosted two well attended Virtual FAFSA Completion Sessions for students in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Completing the FAFSA is one of the best predictors that a student will enroll into college in the fall immediately following high school graduation. Completing the FAFSA as soon as possible after the opening of the FAFSA filing period provides students with the greatest opportunities for state, federal, and institutional scholarships and grants.
Following are the FAFSA Completion Rates by state, according to FAFSA Tracker:
- Florida – 49.5%
- South Carolina – 55.2%
- North Carolina – 55.5%
- Georgia – 57.8%
Let’s Give a Shout Out!
We appreciate the outreach efforts of Florence School District 3 Guidance Counselors: Ms. Wilson (12th Grade), Ms. Haynes (10th/11th Grades), and Ms. McDaniel (9th-11th Grades); and Pinellas County Schools Counselors: Mrs. Heatly (12th Grade – Lakewood High School), and Dr. McKee, (8th Grade – Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School).
Ms. Wilson and Ms. Haynes hosted the first week or the twice-per-week after school college planning sessions for Lake City Early College High School students to jump start their participation in our program. We are excited by the progress and persistence of students as they work to complete the September and October Modules. A big shout out to Florence School District 3 Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Laura Hickson, and to Dr. Lewis Brinson, Pinellas County Schools Minority Achievement Officer for expanding our program to include all high school students.
We are giving a shout out to our son, Mychal-David Wynn (BA English, Amherst College) who recently completed the UCLA Certified College Counselor Certificate Program. He has done a great job and devoted long hours to editing college essays so that students can meet today’s Early Decision and Early Action deadlines.
Guilford County Schools First Generation College Student Ambassadors
We share in the disappointment of Guilford County Schools students and parents that our nationally recognized First Generation College Students Ambassadors Program has yet to receive final approval for the 2020-21 school year. While we have not been able to continue our work with rising high school juniors and their families, we have provided scholarships to rising high school seniors so that our staff can continue assisting students in meeting critical deadlines and providing essay writing assistance. Despite the many COVID-19 disruptions to the lives of students and families, we are confident that our continued support of GCS Seniors will result in much deserved college and scholarship opportunities. Jacob P., one of our Guilford County Schools students from Northwest Guilford High School, has already received multiple college acceptances as he pursues a career in video game design.
With monthly presentations due prior to the last day of the month, there was a flurry of activity on October 31 by cohort students in grades 8 – 11 submitting final presentations. While there were many great presentations from which to choose, we have chosen the presentation of one of our 8th graders to profile in this month’s newsletter. The slide presented below is taken from Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School 8th Grader, Briana D.’s October Presentation, in which she shares her high school research. In her summary, Briana provides insight into the connections between her gifts, talents, and interests with available high school choices in Pinellas County Schools (FL) well in advance of the January 6 – 15 High School Choice Application Deadline. Briana’s presentation provides insight into the “Backwards Mapping” strategy in our program in which she identified Stanford University as her top college choice through her September college and career research. Then, through her October research into her high school options, Briana identified St. Petersburg High School as a viable pathway to becoming a competitive candidate for being offered admission to her top college choice—Stanford University.
Briana makes a strong connection between her gifts, talents, and high school choice:
“Some things that I am talented at are playing the violin, playing sports, writing, reading, math, science, dancing, singing, and acting. The things I would like to continue in my high school is advanced coursework in math, science, and English/Language Arts; and playing the violin and playing sports. I am planning to attend Saint Petersburg High School because great athletic programs, orchestra, and opportunities to take advanced classes through either their AP or IB Programs.”
We are so impressed by the work ethic of Briana and other students in our 8th Grade Cohort that we are moving students into our 9th – 10th Grade Classroom. Students will continue to engage in their monthly discussions with other 8th graders while completing the same work as our high school students.
Important actions for high school seniors:
- Complete Your College Admissions Strategy Table
- Complete Your College and Scholarship Essays Document
- Complete Your Common Application
- Select the Admission Cycle for Each of Your Schools
The November session will focus on important next steps in financial aid. Students in grades 9 – 11 have developed the first 2 parts of their 2020-21 college-bound plan:
- October: Developing My Body of Work – Part I: Gifts and Talents
- September: Developing My Body of Work – Part II: Personality and Interests
In November, students will prepare a final presentation on Developing My Body of Work – Part III: 4-year High School Schedule as part of a comprehensive strategy for maximizing high school opportunities through coursework, extracurricular activities, leadership, and community service to develop their gifts and talents, pursue their interests, and become exceptional college applicants. Students will present their October Final Presentations in their November discussion groups.
Mark Your Calendar
Monthly Meeting Schedule:The second Saturday of each month.
November 14, 2020 – 9:00 am – 11:00 am: 9th – 10th Grades (click here to register; Meeting ID: 838 2462 4377)
November 14, 2020 – 10:00 am – 12:30 pm:11th and 12th Grades (click here to register; Meeting ID: 843 9332 9122)
Florence School District 3 November Sessions – 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm: (click here to register; Meeting ID 894 9627 2665)
Monday: November 2
Thursday: November 5
Tuesday: November 10
Thursday: November 12
Tuesday: November 17
Thursday: November 19
Important Future Sessions for Seniors. See December Newsletter for dates and times:
- Researching Scholarships
- Understanding Financial Aid Award Letters
- Finalizing College Enrollment Decisions
New Facebook Page
We appreciate Jalani Wynn, our new Media Director, for developing our College Planning Cohort Facebook Page. We have been posting and emailing important content pertaining to college admissions, scholarships, and virtual college fairs. Click here and ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ us on Facebook.
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