Hello again everyone! This is my second and my last VISTA blog to everyone.
First off, I want to say, where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday, I was first starting at my host site and still stuck in the cloud of confusion. It has now been approximately 10 months since that day and I am planning my Legacy Binder. It always seemed like this day was forever away but now it is approaching quickly.
With thoughts of our End of Year Celebration filling my head, I am getting excited to see everyone once again and I am a little saddened by the realization that we probably won’t be getting together again like this. Fear not! The friendships that we have forged will last a lifetime! I have already made many new and wonderful friends while making millions of memories that will never be forgotten.
Though my time as a VISTA is winding down, I am still constantly busy at my host and community partner site. At Jackson College (JC), I am continually helping out with the frequent New Student Orientations (NSO) that prepare incoming students to be successful during their academic careers here.
Since high school is out for the summer, I have begun to spend some of my days at the College and Career Access Center (CCAC). Ever heard of Summer Melt? No, it isn’t when your ice cream melts into a gooey mess. Summer Melt is the drop in numbers of students who say they are going to enter into a college (or any post-secondary) institution. Oftentimes there is a difference between how many students say they are going to attend and how many students end up attending. My goal is to see which students are at risk of falling prey to Summer Melt and then guiding them so that they stay on track.
One of my favorite parts of what I have been doing is seeing some students go full circle. At Northwest High School (NWHS), I worked with students on their individual plans for post-secondary education, why they should continue their education and assist with scholarships. At CCAC, I get to help file the dreaded FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). FAFSA causes much confusion since it requires various tax information and social security number from both students and parents. At JC’s NSOs, I am easing students’ transitions into college. I work with both traditional and non-traditional students so I see a variety of concerns. It is the little things- some students I have been working with since August at NWHS and now they are attending JC in the fall.
Just as these students move on to new things, so shall we. In a few weeks, we will be doing whatever comes next. For some it will be another service term, for others new employment, and some maybe going back to school themselves. I may not know exactly what comes next but I do know that I have learned a lot and have many friends who will be with me in my next steps.
Greetings to one and all! My name is Leslie Warren and I am a first year VISTA who is serving Jackson College (JC). My community partner is Northwest High School (NWHS). My primary focus is increasing college readiness for all students.
In the fall, NWHS offered many opportunities for the students to meet college admissions representatives. We have taken groups of students to visit eight institutions in Michigan. Each college informed students about the benefits and opportunities that each offers as well as gave a tour of campus. Students were introduced to the admissions representative at each institution who can help students prepare to make decisions regarding college preference and eventually attendance.
I have arranged for college representatives from 30 colleges in Michigan to visit NWHS. Admissions representatives come to NWHS and speak with the students on a general level about their institution. Students can use these events to ask representatives any questions they have about the college, scholarships, and the application process.
At Jackson College, I have been assisting with New Student Orientations (NSO). During NSO, students learn about the resources that JC, go on a campus tour, talk to housing, meet with financial aid, receive their student identification card, speak with an advisor, and set up their class schedule. Students who attend NSO are better prepared for college success since they receive guidance and knowledge about where they can find assistance during their college journey. During 14 NSOs for the Winter Semester, JC has prepared 252 students for their education at JC.
In hopes to further increase student success, I have been working with a small group of people on the creation of a food pantry for JC students. We have discovered that many students are also struggling to attain sufficient food. We are researching what other institutions have done to assist their students who are in need. As a result of the creation of the food pantry, fewer Jackson College students will have to choose between paying to get to class or buying food meaning that more students will be able to focus on their studies and not their empty stomachs. This will encourage students to complete their educational journey rather than dropout of college.
There is still more exciting college news coming to NWHS in the form of CollegePalooza on April 19th, 2015. I am coordinating with representatives from a little over 100 post-secondary institutions to talk with current high school students. This event is primarily targeted to high school juniors who can use the event to find out more about each institution without having to travel all over Michigan to physically visit each college.
There is a lot of buzz going around Jackson as students work to accomplish their college dreams and we will not rest until everyone has their chance to succeed! We have come a long way over the past six months and the next six months show just as much promise as the last six!
Until next time!
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!