Immokalee’s rising seniors using summer to virtually prepare for college

The summer before students’ senior year of high school is usually when they get serious about college planning.

By June or July, they’ll have ACT or SAT scores in hand and begin touring college campuses to find the right fit – financially, socially and academically.

For the class of 2021, though, this summer is different. Spring test dates were postponed, so many students don’t have any qualifying test scores to report. College campuses are closed, so tours are canceled. Admissions officers and counselors are harder to reach because they’re working remotely.

Despite the challenges, rising high school seniors in Guadalupe Center’s Tutor Corps Program are still preparing for August 2021, the date when they’ll start college.

Normally, Tutor Corps students would have opportunities to participate in one- to six-week pre-college experiences at universities across the country through the E.G. Salisbury Tutor Corps Summer Academy, a program funded by Guadalupe Center’s generous supporters. Instead, Guadalupe Center enrolled all 28 rising seniors in an online, general education course through Roberts Wesleyan College in New York.

Tutor Corps students are learning how to communicate professionally with professors and classmates over video calls, email and messaging platforms. They are beginning to understand the academic expectations of college students and recognizing the keys to success include initiative and self-motivation. And when the course is finished, each student will have three college credits on their transcript, which puts these first-generation college students one step closer to a college degree.

Beyond that, Guadalupe Center is providing an essay writing workshop over Zoom that offers assistance drafting essays required in college applications. Colleges received thousands upon thousands of applications from prospective students, with nearly everyone possessing strong GPAs, academic accolades and a lengthy list of leadership positions. What differentiates applications is the essay, so Tutor Corps students are learning writing tips and strategies to draft standout essays.

One of our volunteers is leading College 101 sessions that cover the basics of college life and lingo, like explaining the difference between liberal arts institutions and research universities, general education classes and courses required for a major, and two- and four-year schools.

Another summer session focuses on leadership, professionalism and other traits necessary to succeed in college and beyond.

Guadalupe Center also is registering Tutor Corps students for free virtual college fairs, where they can “visit” admissions officers to learn about degree programs, campus life, scholarship opportunities and more.

This most unusual of summers may actually be working out in students’ favor. Instead of limiting their opportunities, the move to virtual everything is creating endless possibilities for students to learn and grow. They will be better prepared for their senior year at Immokalee High School and in a great position to transition to college. Higher education may look different when they arrive on campus – or in a virtual classroom – but Tutor Corps students will be prepared.

College Education– By Sheila Oxx, director of the Tutor Corps Program