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College Awareness Raised At Oakdale Area Schools
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College awareness has been a theme throughout February at Oakdale High School, as February is College Awareness Month. Further, in support of College Awareness Month on a countywide level, Feb. 18 was “Wear Your College Logo to Work” day.

Staff and students alike at the high school and the junior high school wore T-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the logo of their alma mater, a college they hope to attend, or a college that a family member attended in recognition of the day. A display in the main hallway at OHS that told students they were “in the driver’s seat” featured various college pennants as well as several red graduation gowns signed by freshmen as a commitment to graduate with their class.

The high school also had stories from staff members regarding their experiences about college read during the morning announcements. One college story from English teacher Kelly Olson taken from the Feb. 15 announcement read, “I was inspired to go to college because my parents believed in the richness of a college education. They pushed my brother and I to open our world to the possibilities that a college education could provide. He went to Cal, I went to UOP and now we are both teachers trying to inspire others to try college as well. For both of us, there are absolutely no regrets!”

Similarly at the junior high, daily announcements had information about college such as comparisons for pay and employment for college grads versus those with a high school diploma.

OHS college counselor Denise Hitch said that at the high school, they try to keep thoughts about attending college in the students’ awareness all year long with various types of promotion. One is to publicize on the school marquee names of students who have been accepted to college and the names of those colleges.

“It’s really keeping that awareness out there on a local level,” she said.

She added that all the OHS counselors have also conducted various college workshops with each grade level. Additionally, the high school counselors meet with students during their freshman and sophomore years where they learn more about how to get into college and do some career exploration. In their junior year, the students are introduced to Internet-based programs like “CSU Mentor” and “Naviance.” Mentor helps students figure out how the courses they’ve taken in high school can transfer to college. Naviance serves as a place for students to take a look at colleges and track what they offer, as well as a scholarship list, SAT preparation and more.

“It’s like an online file cabinet,” Hitch said.

The “Passport To Success” program at the high school focuses on freshmen and tells them how to be successful in high school and what they need to do if they plan to go to college. Hitch said that some students have the mindset that they won’t be able to afford college, so they may end up skipping high school courses that they would need to attend college, such as foreign language classes. She said that if they’re from low-income families they still need to keep the door open for college by taking the right classes in high school.

“We want to let them know the kind of help available,” Hitch said.

She added that some families that haven’t had members who’ve gone to college may believe it’s not feasible for their student to go to college, but it is feasible if they qualify for financial aid. So it’s important to educate both the kids and the parents about college possibilities, Hitch said.

A “college bound” display as students walk into the school counseling office also mentions the names of students and the colleges where they’ve been accepted. OHS counselor Kim Stogdell said that there are a number of informational college materials available at that display. She said the counselors will give some of the materials, such as brochures on how to prepare for the SAT, to students who are seeking some guidance.

Hitch reported that there is also a college handbook for eighth through twelfth graders posted on the OHS website under the “Student Info” tab. In approximately 90 pages there is information about how to get into college, applying, visiting campuses, interviewing, as well as military and job information.