‘Collegebound’ Students Get a Closer Look at CSULA

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

Eager to learn more about getting into college, students from throughout the Montebello Unified School District toured the Cal State LA campus, hoping to get a jumpstart on the college admissions process.

Dozens of sophomores and juniors from the Collegebound Today program at the Applied Technology Center in Montebello and their parents spent a recent Saturday morning learning more about a process that to some seems very foreign.

The district’s Collegebound Today program partners students with mentors during the second semester of their sophomore year. The mentors, made up of college graduates and professionals, stick with a group of students until they graduate from high school.

Students from Applied Technology Center in Montebello take a tour of the Cal State Los Angeles campus.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Students from Applied Technology Center in Montebello take a tour of the Cal State Los Angeles campus. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The program aims to help the students, most of whom would be the first in their families to attend college, with the long and complicated process of preparing, applying and finding ways to pay for college.

For Julie Flores, a sophomore at ATC, the tour of the Cal State LA campus got her thinking about everything that is involved with getting into college, such as taking the SAT (college admissions exam), the A-G high school classes required for admissions and how to properly fill out  all the forms that are part of the application process.

“They’re trying to get us into the mindset for getting into college,” Flores said about the program and tour.

As the first in her family planning to apply to college, Flores said she wants to makes sure she is ready by her senior year when college applications are due.

“My parents don’t know anything about that [applications],” she said. “I want to learn about it so I can explain it to my parents.”

Her father, Zeno Flores, told EGP that Julie is motivated to learn more about the college process.

“I could help her, but it would be more complicated” for me to figure it out, he said in Spanish. “This program is meant to help her apply.”

But Zeno Flores is not alone. Guadalupe Gonzalez told EGP she appreciates the Collegebound Program because it fills the gaps in information her son needs to apply for college but that as a parent she would have a hard time helping him learn.

“I wasn’t informed before,” she said, referring to some of the deadlines she learned about during the college tour. “I’m learning…if it wasn’t for the program I would have to go on the Internet and get more information from counselors” to try and figure everything out, she said.

Unlike some students who are concerned with scoring well on the SATs, getting good grades and writing personal essays, Gonzalez’s son Juan Cruz told EGP he is more concerned with how he will actually pay for college.

“I think I’m mentally prepared for college but I don’t think I’m financially ready,” he said.

His mother shares that same concern.

“The thing that seems the most difficult for me is the money,” Gonzalez said in Spanish. “Where is the money going to come from to pay for the classes?”

Although the tour did not include a detailed talk about tuition, Jose Flores and his daughter Mel realize that there is a difference in costs between colleges.

“We’re just learning, we don’t know much,” he said.

And despite having an older son who will be attending a university in Northern California in the fall, Jose says the Collegebound Program should help things go smoother for his daughter.

“It’s going to be easier since we’re still in the process,” he said.

For now, students like Roberto Viramontes, a sophomore at ATC, will wait to think about how to pay for college, and instead focus on making sure their grades and classes make them eligible for admission.

“We got to learn more about a college than we already did,” said Viramontes referring to the Cal State LA tour. “They talked about the things they look for in an application…that’s very important.”

Cruz said he now realizes that applying for colleges is not only about the student but the school itself.

“I learned that one of the most important things about college is that you have to be comfortable in the college, I personally never thought about that,” he said. So for him, that means his college search must be more than just what he hears or reads.

“That makes me want to go visit colleges,” he said.

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May 29, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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