Clearing up college and career mysteries

PHS juniors Ashley Viator and Kayla Lazrak enjoy talking with a recruiter from the University of Montevallo. (Contributed)

PHS juniors Ashley Viator and Kayla Lazrak enjoy talking with a recruiter from the University of Montevallo. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“I’m extremely glad that I went to College and Career Night because I had so many misconceptions about college,” said PHS junior Kayla Lazrak.

My students resemble college students, but their college knowledge is limited due to their inexperience. Even my students whose parents attended college have a hard time connecting to their parents’ experience which was often many years ago.

Some students only think of college campuses as hosts of huge athletic events. When they think of the next leg of their education, high school students become overwhelmed.

“Hosting College and Career night is one attempt to educate students about what comes next,” said PHS Senior Counselor Laura Cochran.

Many colleges and universities were represented at the PHS College and Career Fair—along with individuals and groups offering more career information.

Seeing Pelham Police Department Sgt. Joey Pitts, representing the newly launched Pelham Police Explorers Post 2600, was a delight. Pitts had also manned a table at registration in July.

“I am so excited about this program that I can’t shut up about it,” Pitts said. “When Helena High School opened and Helena’s Explorer program had its own school to serve, Chief Palmer insisted that Pelham should begin an Explorer program. I feel extremely fortunate to be involved.”

Students and parents asked college reps about alumni scholarships, first-in-family scholarships and the significance of GPAs and ACT scores.

College representatives shared brochures, business cards and information. I collected materials for my Competitive Writing students who were unable to attend. Competitive Writing students write for publication and scholarships, complete college applications and resumes and research scholarships.

This year, for the first time, students planning to attend college in the fall of 2017 will be able to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in October instead of waiting until mid-January of this school year. Hopefully, that will mean earlier award letters and students working harder than ever to supplement their financial aid with scholarships.

My students are motivated to write their way to debt-free futures. I am thrilled to assist.