Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Seniors get serious about college prep

By Jessica Sanders
The Gazette-Enterprise

Published September 25, 2007
SEGUIN — Ashley Coker’s aspirations require an admissions officer’s rubber stamp.

Coker, a senior at Seguin High School, said she has her heart set on attending Texas A&M University in the fall. However, like so many other high school seniors, she will have to put her fate in the hands of her choice school.

“I just got back from a visit weekend and I’m really gung-ho that A&M is the college I want to go to,” Coker said. “I have so much hope that I’m going to get in.”

Monday marked the first day of the senior student/parent counseling sessions at Seguin High School, where counselors will meet with between 375 and 400 seniors to discuss graduation and post-high school plans.

Lead Counselor Gerald Rodriguez said at least 60 percent of the school’s graduates pursue higher education, whether at a university, junior college or trade school.

“Basically we like to make a list of things for the kids to be aware of so they can finish and be ready to start life after high school,” he said. “If they are still working on the college search, we can give them tips of what to look for when they’re researching colleges and majors.”

Senior Julio Galera said he’s had his major picked out for years, but choosing a school is another matter.

Galera said he hopes to study architecture at the University of Cincinnati, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, the University of Texas at Austin or Texas Tech University.

“I’ve been fascinated with architecture since I was little,” Galera said. “I’m an artist, too, and I was really disappointed when I couldn’t take art because it was at the same time as my architecture class.”

The road to college has already been rough for Galera. In addition to taking a full schedule of classes, he works at Wal-Mart and at Chili’s to help support his family. He has also added calculus to his busy schedule to make sure his math skills are up to standard for the competitive architecture programs he’s applying to.

“I’ve been really busy but I’m really determined,” he said, adding that his mother prefers that he stays close to home. “I’m really looking to go out of state, but I’ve got to help my mom out, since my dad’s no longer around. That’s why I’m also applying at UT-Austin and Texas Tech.”

Senior Halsi Brodbeck said her list of potential colleges fluctuates by the day. She said she wants to be sure and choose the best fit: a smaller campus with a great drafting and interior design program.

“I kinda like Angelo State University because my cousin is there and I need a small school,” she said. “I’m probably taking the SAT and the ACT because some schools prefer one or the other. I’m also sorting through different school applications and trying to visit a lot of campuses.”

Brodbeck said she is considering Angelo State, Blinn College, Texas A&M, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and Baylor University. While sorting through potential schools, she’s also preparing for her tests and juggling advanced placement and dual credit classes.

Halsi’s mother, Sharron Brodbeck, said the college application process is dizzying, but she’s also glad that her daughter is able to chose from so many schools.

“I think it’s great she sees a world of opportunity. When I was her age it was just Texas State and that’s it,” she said. “Reality will come into play soon enough. We can fill out 10 applications if we have to, but I think when we go to visit it will be clearer in her mind.”

Rodriguez said parents are often an integral part of the application process. Though college is a time of independence, a little extra guidance is usually helpful for students.

“We like the parents to come to the senior counseling sessions, too,” he said. “They often have questions and are mystified by the process. It can be a little scary, especially for kids who are the first generation going to college.”

Sharron said, for her family, the process is made a little easier because her older daughter Keri went through it a few years ago. She is now a student at Baylor University.

“When Keri went to Baylor she was just like, ‘I think this is it,’” Sharron recalled. “I’m thinking that’s what will happen with Halsi.”

Even for students who have a “dream school” in mind, the months leading up to graduation are still full of difficulty.

Coker said she’s been taking inventory of past activities for college applications, while preparing to take the SAT and hoping for the best. In case she isn’t accepted as an Aggie right out of high school, Coker also plans to apply to Texas State, Texas Tech and Blinn College.

However, she is determined to get her degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M.

“I could go to Blinn or Texas State for a year or two and then transfer,” she said. “But I just can’t picture myself anywhere but A&M.”

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