Applying for college can be one of the most stressful times for any high school senior. It’s a period where students are not only concerned about their current coursework, they’re also having to look ahead to the next phase of their academic career.
It also involves navigating a difficult, and at times, intimidating process that confuses and frustrates many students and parents.
To help out seniors at Righetti High School, the Reach Higher Academy has been created to assist students looking to continue their education following graduation.
“It was inspired by the First Lady’s initiative, which is to encourage all students to continue their education after high school, regardless if it’s community college, a four-year or vocational school, and so inspired by that, we wanted to make sure we were providing something for our seniors that would help them create their post-secondary plans,” said school counselor Eric Blanco.
On Wednesday, more than 180 Righetti seniors celebrated completion of the six-week long program, which provides one-on-one instruction in a variety of important topics, such as how to apply for college, financial aid, resumes, required testing, etc.
“It was very helpful,” said student Isabella Brown. “I feel a lot more confident going into the college application process and I feel like I have a good chance now.”
Brown, who is looking to pursue a career in neuroscience, specializing in developmental disorders, added the academy is a program that isn’t available at all schools. She notes it’s been extremely important as she hopes to move on to UC Berkeley.
“Especially the financial aid part,” Brown said. “I had no idea what a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) was, now to create an FSA (Federal Student Aid) ID or anything, and they walked us through the whole process and I feel like I got the help I needed.”
Senior Johnuel Laron is also relieved to have completed the program, saying it’s simplified the challenging process.
“Without this and the academy, I would say doing the application by yourself, out of one to 10, it’s about a 12, but coming to this academy, it really helped me out. It really showed what I needed to get done and how to do that,” Laron said.
During the program, students were assisted by counselors from a number of community educational partners.
“We had Allan Hancock College provide college counselors provide sessions,” Blanco said. “We had the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara help and that’s crucial, because financial aid is one of the big barriers for a lot of students, so for them to be able to provide information on how to get that started is really important. We also had UCSB and our school counselors here.”
During Thursday’s ceremony, students received completion certificates, as well as pizza and other treats courtesy of Allan Hancock College.