College Access For All?

by Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.

Is there college access for all?

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to roughly 200 parents and students in three packed sessions at the Princeton Review Program at South Torrance High School.

Many public school systems have ratios of advisors to students that make it impossible for students to have their concerns addressed and their questions and  answered. At South Torrance the ratio is 600 to one extremely overworked counselor. Was there college access for all?

I was surprised at how little many in the audience knew about the process. And I was impressed with the interest of the audience and surprised at some of the excellent questions that were asked.

I spoke about the Common Application, researching available information in order to find good College Fits, and the process of obtaining Financial Aid.

As I scanned the crowd, many were taking notes.  Yes, the college application process is complex and can be quite stressful.

I spoke with their high school college counselor. She confirmed that most questions ranged from early plans to financial aid to various admission policies. “What is Score Choice” How do I complete the Common App and attempt to get recommendations?”

So what can I do as a college consultant who cares so much for the students? In this case I agreed to accept, Pro Bono, some of the students who showed the greatest interest and desire to attend college. Any student that has the desire, should have access to college, whether a Liberal Arts out of state college, a large state research university, or Community College. There are so many questions that arise throughout the process.  Everyone should have someone to answer those questions. Looking at confused faces listening attentively, there was only so much information I could disperse in a short amount of time.  I continue to wonder why high schools do not include a college prep course in their curriculum. Certainly there are budget constraints but shouldn’t the information regarding the college process be a priority?

The current system is certainly unfair. Those who cannot seek private help for test prep or the college application process do not understand all they need to do or where opportunities lie. They are at an extreme disadvantage. Many talented, ambitious and intelligent students who will not go to college are in our high schools.  Perhaps the colleges themselves should do more than recruit students. We’d like to see them also provide an education on the college process to all public school systems.

by Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.