College Readiness Month helps students plan early for college

The Houston Independent School District will recognize October as College Readiness Month by offering college fairs, workshops, and information sessions to students as they prepare to take College Board exams and apply for college and financial aid.

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“Students can find themselves running out of time to meet deadlines if they wait until November or later to begin the college admissions process,” said HISD College Readiness Assistant Superintendent Rick Cruz. “Applying to colleges and visiting college campuses early helps ensure that our students don’t miss out on a number of valuable opportunities that may lead to a college acceptance or scholarship offer.”

Almost 60 percent of the HISD class of 2012 enrolled in a two- or four-year college within one year of graduating from high school, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. From 2007 to 2013, the number of HISD students who graduated from high school increased by 22 percent, and the district’s SAT participation rate jumped by 94 percent. The amount of scholarships and financial aid awarded to HISD students was more than $254 million for the class of 2014, up from $70 million for the class of 2013.

During October, all campuses across the district are encouraged to host college activities for students. The district will hold a College Application Day to assist high school seniors with applying for college and a PSAT Test Administration Day in which all HISD 9th-11th graders take the College Board exam to measure college readiness and determine if they qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Students who scored well on the PSAT in 10th grade are currently participating in a PSAT test preparation camp to work on improving their test scores to qualify for the prestigious scholarship. In addition, all HISD high school students have access to PrepMe, a free online PSAT and SAT test preparation program.

One of the district’s big events during College Readiness Month is Ivy Plus College Night, where students are invited to meet with admissions representatives from colleges and universities ranked among the top 100 by U.S. News & World Report. In September, the district hosted a Texas College Night where more than 1,500 students learned about college admissions requirements, academic programs, and financial aid at Texas’ top public colleges and universities.

Here is a list of programs organized by the district’s College Readiness Department throughout October.

Oct. 2 Barnard Night: Students are invited to an information session on Barnard College, a liberal arts women’s college, from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. at Lamar High School, 3325 Westheimer Road.
Oct. 6 Ivy Plus College Night: A gathering of admissions representatives from the nation’s top colleges and universities from 5 to 8 p.m. at Reagan High School, 413 E. 13th St.
Oct. 6-15 College Essay Workshops: College application workshops at various high schools.
Oct. 8 Yale Night: Students are invited to a Yale University information session from 6-9 p.m. at the Hattie Mae White Education Support Center, 4400 W.18th St.
Oct. 15 College Application Day: HISD 12th graders apply to college and receive assistance with requesting their FAFSA pin numbers.
Oct. 15 PSAT Test Administration Day: HISD 9-11th graders take the PSAT during the school day.
Oct. 15 Texas A&M University Visit: HISD 12th graders have the opportunity to tour the university.
Oct. 16 University of Pennsylvania Night: Students are invited to this college information session at 7 p.m. at the Hattie Mae White Education Support Center, 4400 W. 18th St.