Latino parents discuss college application process
On Saturday Feb. 9, parents of Hispanic students had an informational meeting about the college admissions process. The event included a question and answer session and a discussion with the selected panel.
The panel consisted of Alyssa Perez, who graduated from Towson and now works for her alma mater's Office of Admissions, Jihan Asher, a representative from CASA De Maryland , Jennifer Romero, a University of Maryland student and Marcy Campos, the mother of a college student.
One of the most heavily discussed topics in the meeting was obtaining financial aid and scholarships. Many parents were worried that even with the right grades, their kids would not be able to go to college due to lack of money to cover the expenses. "There are many scholarships that are given to high school students. The fact that they don't have money isn't an excuse to not go to college," Romero said. According to the panel, the first option for financial aid that students should look into, was the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) . According to their website, Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation.
Alicia Deeny, one of the coordinators of the event, repeatedly suggested that parents talk to Career Center coordinator Phalia West in order to get more information more specific to individual students. West, Deeny said, along with the student's counselor, can find scholarships and colleges that are suited to the individual.
The panel also discussed the requirements for college applications. Perez placed an emphasis on the importance of grades as well as the essays that have to be written as part of the application process. According to Perez, although grades and the SAT are important parts of the process, they only show the numerical value an individual has. The essay shows the personality and passion of the student. Perez suggested writing about a topic that reflects who the student is as a person. The essay is an opportunity for the student to sell themselves. "It's like a puzzle and some puzzle pieces are bigger. Once you put these pieces together, you'll be able to market yourself—no one else is going to do it for you. You have to be your own advocate," CASA de Maryland representative Asher said.
The whole panel stressed that the parents should remind their students to take their time with applications. "Just know that it's a really long process. In 11th grade just map it out for yourself. There are a lot more resources, more access to scholarships and more information, [so] the longer you give yourself, the better," Deeny said.
According to Deeny, the ideal scenario would be starting applications the summer before senior year. It would also be beneficial for the students to ask for recommendations in the summer or early senior year, out of consideration for the teachers since they will have many other recommendations to write. The panel told the parents to get a head start on visiting colleges, planning financially, and reminding their students to start the application process early.
The next panel meeting will be April 3 in the Blair library.
Melissa Arias. More »