This spring, RISE invited Grade 9 families from all RISE high schools to participate in virtual family workshops in both English and Spanish. Over 40 families and students from 10 schools engaged in small group conversations, reviewed key priorities for planning for college and career beginning in Grade 9, learned about opportunities for students, and engaged counselors and educators from across the network in discussions around postsecondary success.
Engaging Educators and Families
During an interactive panel discussion, RISE team members, school administrators, and school counselors answered questions from families on topics ranging from staying on-track, understanding credit options and requirements, and engaging in extracurricular opportunities, as well as the college application and financial planning process.
Here are some highlights from that conversation:
What advice do you have for me as a parent as we navigate preparing for the college and career process during COVID?
COVID has changed a lot of things; however, milestones and directions around your post-high school planning are the same, especially academics. It is important to tell every 9th grader. “What you’re doing right now really matters.” It is also important to be reflective, start thinking about what students are good at and also what they may not be good at, and begin to understand their strengths and weaknesses. As we start to dive into this work those discussions will help them decide what they want to study in college, or if they want to pursue a trade or an apprenticeship program.
Abby Marcantonio, College and Career Coordinator – Platt High School
Looking forward to Grade 10 and thinking about the importance of credits, what can my child do as they begin deciding which classes to take next year?
It is important to keep a close eye on graduation requirements, as well as your school’s course book to know the subjects that are available for students to take. I would encourage students to speak with their families and then schedule a meeting with their school counselor to ask any questions that they may have and be aware of deadlines. It’s important to think about the rigor of the classes they take and what each school has to offer (i.e. honors and IB courses) so you can advocate for yourself to be in higher level classes when possible.
Ari Meadows, College and Career Coordinator – Brien McMahon HS
If a student is having difficulty with grades and credits in 9th grade, what can families do to ensure we have all opportunities available after graduation?
What you can do now is find people that you trust and build relationships with them, and let them help you. It is really important to ask for help. This includes your parents, a classmate, teachers, counselors and administrators. Whoever it is, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself as a freshman and figure out the people who are going to be there to help you throughout high school.
Lorenzo Chavez, School Counselor – Hartford Public High School
Many families have been impacted by the economic crisis. What options do families have if we are not able to save for college now?
There are many financial options for families. First are fee waivers – the College Board and universities offer waivers for SAT tests and college applications that are available if families apply for free or reduced lunch at their school. The state of Connecticut also offers support for college students, for example if a student decided to go to a Connecticut college, they can take advantage of the PACT program that will pay for their 2-year school. If a family is undocumented, new resources exist within the state that offer financial aid from Connecticut state schools for students. Last is scholarship applications – if you are looking for additional financial aid and have good grades, my suggestion is dedicating one hour a week to apply to three scholarship applications to reach your financial aid goals.
Paola Ochoa, Department Head School Counseling – Westhill High School
During the pandemic it has been really difficult to participate in extracurricular activities. How will this impact my college application?
Do not worry so much now at this moment about being able to participate in extracurriculars because the whole nation is in the same situation during the pandemic. However, now is a good time to prepare for the upcoming summer and years to come when schools are open and back to normal. Students can take advantage of this time to look for organizations or activities to dedicate themselves to over the next three years and grow into leadership roles within that same activity.
Yesenia Diaz, School Counselor – Francis T. Maloney High School
A Community of Support and Collaboration
We are thrilled to continue collaborating with families as partners in achieving student success. We are especially thankful for our administrators, educators and RISE team members who served as panelists and wonderful resources for our families across the network.