Groups of high school seniors are packing into seminar rooms at St. Charles Community College each week this spring to learn what they need to do to go to college.
“It’s not that they’re lazy, they just don’t know what steps they have to take,” said Kimberly Jansen, college and career counselor/A+ coordinator at Troy Buchanan High School. “The BeReady program is an amazing opportunity for students who would not have taken the steps themselves.”
To remove barriers and prepare students for college and career success, SCC is making it easier for middle and high school students in the region to receive information and resources. The BeReady Smart Start program brings nearly 300 high school students from 10 surrounding school districts to SCC to give them a jump start on the process of attending college.
“We help students understand how to schedule and plan classes that will fit into their lives along with their other responsibilities,” said Kati Karleskint, SCC student outreach coordinator. “Students are busy with work, helping to support their family and many drive a long distance to campus. We try to help them prepare for college success and learn to balance it all.”
The high school seniors receive information about SCC, assessment testing, financial aid/FAFSA forms and deadlines, class scheduling, time management, enrollment/registration, advisement, campus tours, SCC clubs/organizations and the benefits of completing a college degree.
“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the schools we have partnered with, and we hope we can continue the program,” said Tammie De Los Santos, SCC associate director of college and career readiness initiatives.
The funding comes from the Missouri Department of Higher Education College Access Challenge Grant. The current program is targeted to at-risk populations and rural schools, but the information is applicable to every high school student.
Jackie Joyce, college and career counselor at Orchard Farm High School in St. Charles, brought students to SCC on Feb. 20. The same grant is funding her work at Orchard Farm. “Students get a better understanding of what to expect so they’ll start planning what they need to do and start making decisions,” Joyce said.
“This is a good stepping stone for students,” said Annette Neighbors, an Orchard Farm student’s mother. “The fact that they’re here doing this helps them to take the responsibility for getting their FAFSA done, registering and taking the ACT.”
“The program makes possible what appears to be impossible for students in these districts,” said Brian Legate, SCC enrollment services systems and project manager. “Part of that challenge is getting them on campus, and the grant provides that needed transportation.”
Students also are able to eat lunch on campus and take tours led by SCC student ambassadors.
Larry Lagemann, principal at Clopton High School in Clarksville pointed out that a lot of students haven’t seen a college campus. “They are getting an idea of what it’s like,” Lagemann said. “It’s a win-win because this helps the high school students prepare, and it is a great recruitment tool for the college.”
The BeReady Smart Start program is just one small piece of a larger effort by SCC to educate students and families on the benefits of a post-secondary education and how it connects to career attainment.
Other projects include workshops and seminars delivered to high school and middle school participants on college planning and preparation, financial management, career planning and life skills strategies and how to prepare for math in college through the Achieving Success in College Math program. Others include a college and career academy spring break program, ACT prep class, career day and FAFSA parent night.
This year the Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded more than $1.6 million in federal funds to 21 groups to reach underserved students, with SCC receiving $119,926.
“We want students to know that going to college is a possibility for them and to understand that link between postsecondary education and career, so they can pursue their dreams,” said De Los Santos. “There are resources available to help with perceived barriers like finances and family responsibilities.”
Students interested in learning more about SCC should visit www.stchas.edu or the community-wide website www.BeReadyForTheFuture.com, which was launched by SCC to help students successfully transition from K-12 to college and then a career. It connects students and parents to information about college and careers whether or not a student plans to attend SCC.
K-12 district personnel interested in learning more about these programs should contact De Los Santos at 636-922-8342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.