The reason Keith and Merlene Burnette and their son Michael came to the junior and senior orientation at Harlem High School Tuesday night was simple:
"To set our son up for success. That's pretty much the bottom line," Mr. Burnette said.
Michael, a junior, plans to attend Georgia Southern University or another Georgia college when he graduates. His family, like the others at the meeting, wanted to be sure he was on the right track.
With the theme titled Planning the Journey: A High School Student's Roadmap for A Successful School Year, this is the second year Harlem High has held a student orientation. This year's event included juniors.
"What I found out in working with 11th-grade students was their parents needed information also," said Carla Shelton, one of the school's counselors. "To prepare for the transition (into college), there is something to do every month."
Handouts at the meeting included a monthly calendar of tests, applications and other tasks that had to be completed, as well as a junior and senior checklist. Representatives from Augusta State University and Augusta Technical College also were at the meeting to explain their entrance requirements and the programs they offer.
Diane Holland had her notebook out and ready.
"My child's a junior and I've got one already in college, but I need to keep a heads-up on what to plan next. The first one was learn as you go along. I want to be sure we're on the right track," said Holland, mother of Aaron Holland.
English project coordinator Patty Niece explained the senior project to parents. The school system will hand out a 70-page manual to seniors this year which outlines the process.
"The research paper counts for 25 percent of the second-nine-week grade," said Niece, explaining just one of the four components of the project. "If you choose not to write a research paper, the highest grade you could get would be a 75, and that's if you get 100s on everything else."
Kelly Lewis, financial-aid consultant for the Georgia Student Finance Commission, also explained the difference between the HOPE scholarship and grant programs and the application process, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is submitted in January and covers all financial aid programs.
"If you do not apply, there is no HOPE for you," she said.
She also urged parents to save up for college expenses HOPE doesn't cover.
"It's financial aid, financial assistance, not 'pay my way through school,"' Lewis said.
Checklist for juniors:
Take the PSAT if you plan to attend college.
Attend a college/career fair.
Register to take the ACT or SAT I.
Select your senior-year courses carefully.
Start identifying your career goals.
Make a preliminary list of colleges that you are interested in.
Contact colleges for brochures and other information.
Request information on financial aid and scholarships.
Check online financial aid resources.
Checklist for seniors
Keep close contact with your guidance counselor.
Register to take the ACT or SAT I.
Begin submitting your college applications. Don't wait.
Prepare your college essay for those schools that require one.
Attend college/career fairs.
Keep your grades up all year.
Apply for scholarships and grants.
Make sure your first-semester grades are forwarded to schools that require mid-year reports.
Clear all senior obligations.
Notify guidance counselor of any awards or scholarships.
Review financial aid award letters.
Complete the college's enrollment and registration process.
Source: Augusta State University
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