'Explore College' Night at Ballou High School Gets Rave Reviews by Staff and Students
'Explore College' Night at Ballou High School Gets Rave Reviews by Staff and StudentsMaria Eugenia Alcon-Heraux, Director, Media Relations
The “Explore College” night event at Ballou High School in Southeast Washington, D.C., is a good representation of why I joined the College Board’s staff this summer. As I stood for almost two hours giving out information to mostly 10th–12th-graders about planning for college, free SAT practice information, and college application fee waivers, I truly felt blessed to work for an organization with such a wonderful mission. At least 300 students and parents showed up at the event hoping to catch the admission and financial aid representatives from MIT, University of Arizona, and Maryland, among many others.
I spoke to several seniors, most of whom had already sent out their applications. One wanted to be a neonatal surgeon, another a journalist — many had clear pictures of what their futures should be. A few didn’t yet know what they wanted out of college; they came to the event hoping to start figuring that out. The younger students seemed a little suspicious but pleasantly surprised when I kept saying the SAT practice online we offered was free. Parents, for their part, were in disbelief and promised they would make sure their kids took advantage of these free tools, which they had no idea existed.
All the students wanted to go to college but worried about how they were going to find the money to pay for it. Not surprisingly, the most popular sessions at Ballou that night were on financial aid. Several college representatives said how impressed they were with the engagement from students, who had come from three different schools in the area. Many students asked college representatives for their business cards so they could be in touch.
“With College Board Forum 2015 happening in Washington, D.C., it made sense to partner with the fastest-improving urban school district in the country to bring admission and financial aid experts from higher education institutions directly into contact with DCPS students,” said Aaron Lemon-Strauss, executive director at the College Board, who organized and executed the event. “Colleges and universities are looking for engaged and prepared students, and Ballou, Anacostia, and Woodson high schools in D.C. have hundreds of them, as we saw last night.”
Even though these events are meant to inspire students, I'm happy to say that I, too, left inspired by such smart and driven students.