OCDE supports pilot program that guides students through their college applications

One by one, the seniors from Ocean View High School walked through a decorated corridor amid cheers from their classmates, ready to put the finishing touches on some of the most important paperwork of their lives — their college applications.

Last week, the Huntington Beach Union High School District campus was the first of three local schools to host a College Application Day, which brought together a cadre of enthusiastic educators — including some from OCDE — to guide seniors through the complex and often arcane process of completing the packets required to pursue higher education.

Students cheer a senior on campus“It felt like a weight was taken off my shoulders when I submitted my UC application earlier this afternoon,” one student reported afterward. “The staff and community members that were present were extremely helpful, and they made a seemingly daunting task easy.”

Ocean View High was first, but seniors at Anaheim High School in the Anaheim Union High School District will get similar assistance on Nov. 10, and Orange High in the Orange Unified School District will host its College Application Day on Nov. 17.

All three sites were selected to participate in a statewide pilot program called the California College Application and Success Campaign. Tasked with increasing enrollment to postsecondary institutions, the campaign represents a partnership of the American Council on Education, AVID Center, the University of California, California State University, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and a number of other organizations.

OCDE was tapped to assist at the county level, starting with Ocean View’s College Application Day, which was held from 8 a.m. to noon on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. By the time the ink had dried, nearly 300 seniors had submitted applications to 315 colleges and universities under the guidance of Principal Courtney Robinson, College/Career Specialist Allison Upstill and Counselor Karen Collison.

Leading up to the event, the school’s guidance team reviewed the transcripts of all seniors to ensure eligibility for UC, CSU and community colleges. Team members then met with each student to discuss their options before issuing application packets and worksheets, which were worked on during English classes.

Student signing a banner that reads, "I applied."When it was finally time to submit their college admissions materials last week, the seniors were welcomed at a check-in table where they received a folder with their transcripts, an application worksheet packet and free taco coupons. Then it was off to one of two rooms — one reserved for CSU campuses and out-of-state schools, the other for UC schools and community colleges.

The rooms were staffed with trained volunteers from Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Golden West College, Orange Coast College, UC Irvine, the College Board, El Viento and OCDE. A handful of district classified staff and teachers also assisted.

Afterward, the students entered a drawing, took pictures against the “selfie wall,” signed a banner and grabbed donuts courtesy of the PTSO. Each participant also received a sticker with the words, “I applied to college!”