Patti RasmussenThe SignalPauline HarteRichard RiouxTim WhyteLeon Worden

College preparation starts in 10th grade

Patti Rasmussen · October 4, 1997

Your children are just starting out in high school. If they have plans to continue their education beyond high school graduation, the university system has minimum requirements: Six semesters of math (and we're talking algebra, geometry and trig), eight semesters of English, four semesters of lab science (yes, biology and dissecting) and at least four semesters of foreign language (although six semesters are recommended). Cal State also requires two semesters of fine arts. This you need to know from the very beginning of their high school years.

Now it's their senior year and they've been on the right track. Hopefully SATs have been taken, college campuses visited, and they know when the application deadlines are. From this point on everything moves at a nerve-wracking pace, and preparation and planning means everything.

This planning can start as early as their sophomore year, according to Cindee Welch, counselor at Canyon High School. With that said, Canyon will be hosting the second annual Santa Clarita Valley College Night next Wednesday, October 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. Parents and students in grades 10 through 12 are invited to hear seventeen presenters from well-known colleges and universities.

Take it from a mom who has recently been through two college application processes. Not only has higher education gotten more expensive; it has gotten more competitive. The workshops at Canyon High will help you and your student explore the UC system, find out what it takes to prepare for college, and understand the financial aid process.

There will be advice on creative college financing, sports scholarships, NCAA guidelines, military academics and the appointment process for military school. Princeton Review will explain the college application process, essays, interviews and how to get letters of recommendation (required at some schools). College of the Canyons will discuss the benefits of community college as well as support services -- and in this day and age of escalating college expenses, this is an option for families even if the student doesn't live at home. Representatives of Pierce College will be on hand to present college preparation advice to Spanish speaking students and their families.

Last year this conference was held at Saugus High, and over 2,000 individuals took advantage of the workshops. The traffic going up Bouquet Canyon Road was staggering. In order to avoid repeating that scene, free parking and transportation will be provided at the Via Princessa MetroLink station from 6 to 9 p.m. Additionally, service clubs from Canyon High will be on hand to sell food and drinks. Each high school will be selling logo items prior to the presentations, giving us a chance to support the schools.

College applications may seem complicated, but a little planning goes a long way. I hope to see many of my fellow parents at the workshops on Wednesday. Each high school will have counselors present to answer questions.

For high school students and their parents, it will be well worth your time.

* * *

Speaking of high school students, I had the unique opportunity to attend a fund raising dinner for the Republican Party last Wednesday night in support of Congressman Buck McKeon. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich gave the keynote speech, and I have admit that I enjoyed listening to him. (Gingrich can talk -- starting with salad and finishing with dessert and coffee, the speaker was still addressing the room!)

While I don't particularly agree with Mr. Gingrich, especially when it comes to education and vouchers, I must say I was very impressed to see Frank Ferry (Valencia High School ASB advisor) in the room with a group of his students.

I wish I could remember their names -- I know that the ASB and senior class president were there -- but they looked great and Mr. Ferry is to be commended for his commitment to these kids. I don't know who paid for their table -- it was pretty expensive -- but kudos to Frank for inviting these students.

The group filled me in about the upcoming homecoming celebration (changed to October 11, in deference to Yom Kippur), and as a Hart High parent who knows first-hand what a great sound system Valencia High has, it should be quite a show.

Best of luck to this Class of '98. (And Frank, clean out your voice mail! It's impossible to leave you a message.)

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Patti Rasmussen's commentaries appear in The Signal on Saturdays.

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