Holliston High School is all about preparing kids for college, and it shows. Of the 95% of students who graduate, the overwhelming majority move on to some sort of higher education.
Even the lowest level classes have “college preparatory” in their names, and a wide variety of extracurricular clubs and sports give Holliston kids a leg up in the application process. But as any senior will tell you, that process can be long and difficult.
Kids need to narrow down hundreds of possibilities into a small group of final choices, fill out several forms and transcripts, write an essay, get teacher recommendations, complete the actual applications, apply for financial aid, and more.
This is challenging both because it’s a major life decision and because kids often don’t know some of the basic things about the application process. That challenge is further compounded when there are no older siblings or college educated parents to fall back on.
Currently, students are offered support from the guidance office. The student body is divided amongst four counselors, who meet with students about college in scheduled appointments.
Although this system does work, it has its downsides. The workload for each counselor is enormous, and students often have to wait days for an appointment that doesn’t last long enough to address all of their concerns. All those appointments take place during the school day, with the typical student racking up hours of missing class time because of them.
It would make sense to divert all this activity into a College Application class, where busy students can do all of the needed work in a classroom with an instructor instead of struggling through it at home in their free time.
Counselors already meet with class-sized groups of seniors in the computer labs to fill out college forms online. College Application class would replace this, guidance appointments, and time spent outside of school with one forum where students can get all their work done.
The precedent for this idea exists in SAT Prep classes. These are exactly what they sound like – courses on how to take the SAT exam that is universally used by colleges to asses the aptitude of students.
This shares an important similarity with the proposed College Apps class in that it’s not academic, but exists only to help students with college-related work.
And like SAT Prep, College Apps should be a one term elective, meaning that it is as short as a class can be and is completely optional. It would most likely run during terms one and two of the year, months during which many schools place their deadlines.
Over the course of 9 weeks, students could get all of their college work done and make sure that it’s done right. This will alleviate a lot of the stress and end the confusion that so many students feel during the application process.
Holliston High already does a lot to make sure that its students become good candidates for colleges. It only makes sense to set aside some class time to make sure they get there.