College Discussion Panels
In 2011, we hosted our first College Discussion Panel at the Turner Chapel AME Church in Marietta, Georgia. The panel represented an evolution of our work with students in grades k-12 where we inspired academic effort, supported academic growth, celebrated academic achievement, provided enriching exposure to postsecondary pathways, and assisted students and families in conceptualizing 7-year middle-through-high school plans to gain admission into top colleges and qualify for high dollar scholarships.
Since assembling our first panel, we have hosted the panel discussion annually at the Turner Chapel AME Church. Students first appearing as panelists as undergraduate students are now returning as graduate, law, and medical school students. Sharing their candid experiences at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), PWIs (Predominately White Institutions), public, private, and community colleges is insightful and enriching for students planning their postsecondary trajectories or finalizing their college choice.
In June 2015, we began working with a College Planning Cohort of rising high school seniors at Lake City High School in Lake City, South Carolina. We assisted students in developing high quality self-presentations for applying to college and guided students through the college admissions and financial aid processes, through ‘Summer Melt‘ and into enrollment. Consequently, many of these students will return to Lake City High School to appear on will our inaugural Lake City High School College Discussion Panel.
What we have learned from the College Discussion Panels:
- They provide important opportunities for communities to be celebrate the success of their high school graduates
- They provide deeply appreciated opportunities for current college students to share their experiences with those following behind them
- They provide important opportunities for school staff to experience the rewards of their efforts in guiding students into college
- They provide trusted and invaluable insight for parents and students into college preparation, transition, and on-campus experiences
- They debunk myths regarding race, financial aid, college-level coursework, and on-campus challenges facing first generation, lower income, and undocumented students
- They serve as a catalyst for cultivating a college-going culture in schools and communities
- They provide invaluable insight from peers regarding college success, challenges to their faith, choosing the right friends, and successfully navigating the college experience into the workplace, graduate school, law school, or medical school
- Some students have finalized their college enrollment decision, in part, based on the feedback received through conversations with panelists.
This, the 5th year of the annual college discussion panel at our church represents and annual reunion of sorts as former panelists and current college students gather to share their experiences. Each year, it becomes increasingly more difficult to limit our panelists to a dozen students as we have so many students who are successfully navigating their way through college.
The videos and photos posted on this page provide further insight into this amazing experience.