High School seniors may find applying for college, financial aid or scholarships daunting, particularly if they are first generation college or secondary education students.
The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority selected Henry County High School as one of 13 pilot schools to participate and receive support with student activities to ease the process during Kentucky College Application Week.
Henry County High School Guidance Counselor Shawn Coomes helped ease 100 percent of the high school seniors and gave them assistance in continuing their education.
“The biggest hurdle for some of them is deciding what do they want to do right away,” Coomes said. “The important thing is that they continue now and decide later. Some parents want them to make a decision now about what they want to do with their life and not knowing shouldn’t be a reason for not continuing their education.”
Coomes emphasized that whether it is getting into a technical college, a two year program or a traditional college there are general education classes students can take until they decide.
“It may be that a senior is looking into an agriculture degree and they haven’t been exposed to all of the opportunities out there for them,” Coomes said. “We constantly push for students to plan earlier for education after high school. If we get them on a campus they may find there are over 15 different majors involving agriculture or business that they didn’t know existed.”
Senior Jamie Tingle found Kentucky College Application Week helpful in looking for scholarships and regrets not doing it sooner.
“The beginning of the week we looked at colleges we were interested in that had our majors. Mine is mechanical engineering. Western Kentucky University seems right for me, but I didn’t really know where to look for scholarships,” Tingle said. “Mrs. Coomes and Mrs. Rice helped us. The KHEAA bus was here one day. We learned how much money we could qualify for based off of our test scores and GPA. Some kids haven’t thought about what they wanted to major in. I should’ve started looking earlier.”
Some students found the week helpful even if they narrowed down a major and what college they wanted to attend. The verdict was still out for senior Aerial Ayers about how far she wanted to live from home.
“I will do nursing most likely and go to Western (Western Kentucky University). I love that school,” Ayers said. “They have a good teaching program and nursing program and I am torn between the two. I am basically settled on Western it just depends on whether I want to be a long way from home.”
Ayers said College Application Week helped her when it came to writing an essay for scholarships. Students were given a prompt about what inspires them, and for Ayers, it tells what kind of person you are.
“You have to write a page and I wrote two. I thought the longer, the better,” Ayers said. “I love my step mom she had this big ol’ book on scholarships I looked at at least 400 some scholarships. I think this week has been really helpful. It makes you do it and gets people to not wait to the last minute.”
Friday Henry County graduates returned to tell seniors what to expect at college. Topics ranged from living far away from home, time management and extracurricular activities like intramural sports. The graduates explained facilities on campus like writing and math centers. Students were also advised they would sacrifice things like free time. Coomes said students need to hear these lessons from their peers.
“We wanted students to hear what recent graduates have to say about college,” Coomes said. “They hear it from parents and counselors and they don’t absorb it. If they hear it from a recent graduate about what they wish they had known, what college is really like it will sink in more.”
KHEEA selected Henry County High School as a pilot school with 12 others throughout the state based on rate of college bound students, minority population, ACT scores, free and reduced lunch eligibility and existing college programs. The federal College Access Challenge Grant program funded Kentucky College Application Week.
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