No excuses. That is a message that College Application and Exploration Week is having across the state of Tennessee.
At Science Hill, they have a similar goal of wanting to make sure that students are comfortable with the college application process and aren’t intimidated by the long forms or numerous questions.
“We just want our kids to be comfortable when it comes to applying or thinking about college,” Science Hill Counselor Joe McPherson said. “This is an event that is statewide and we are really just trying to promote secondary education after high school. We want to make it easier for them and get them over that hurdle, which is somewhat intimidating.”
Last Wednesday, over 40 students filled out applications inside the library at Science Hill. A similar sized crowd was expected throughout the rest of the week as Science Hill participated in the event sponsored by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and CollegeforTN.org, which took place statewide from Sept. 25-29.
Science Hill senior Billy Bishop was busy at the computer on Thursday, and he admitted that college wasn’t on his mind until the start of his senior year. A smile crossed his face when he was asked if he would be applying for school, if it wasn’t for the welcomed pressure from the Science Hill Counseling Department.
“It has kind of given me something else to look at,” Bishop said. “I didn’t really think of how much college really meant, until this year. And (the counselors) have been going into explanations of what all it can do for you. They have colleges for everybody; you don’t have to be the smartest kid in class to go to college.”
Science Hill senior Darwin Alonso was another that admitted he was still weighing his college options.
“I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do after high school,” he said as he filled out a college application on the computer screen in front of him. “There weren’t that many local schools for the field that I wanted to go into and I didn’t know that Northeast (State Community College) offered the program that I liked. So that has helped me out.”
Letting students know about all the options that are out there is another goal that the counselors have at Science Hill.
Lucas Hitechew, a NiswongerCARE College and Career Advisor, was also on hand to help students. He said that showing kids the path to higher education is part of a goal of increasing the college culture in the area.
“I think it encourages students to think about what happens after high school and hopefully they choose to reach higher in their pursuits,” Hitechew said. “We want their futures to be big, bright and successful.”
Students that may have never applied to college had their opportunity last week. And that was apparent to McPherson in one particular instance as he watched a young lady submit her first college application with tears in her eyes.
“She got teary eyed and sat back and said, ‘I just applied to college.’ “It gives me goose bumps just thinking about that,” McPherson said through a smile. “Because it really is life changing. Education is the great equalizer.”