Virtual town hall offers vital college readiness info for HISD seniors

HISD aired a live virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday, April 28, to assist students pursuing postsecondary education options during the COVID-19 crisis.

The virtual town hall, which aired in English and Spanish, opened with remarks from HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and featured experts in college admissions, scholarships and financial aid, testing requirements, and enrollment.

Dr. Lathan thanked everyone for their patience during this difficult time, saying, “Our goal is to give you access to knowledgeable individuals who can provide up-to-date information, resources, and answers to any questions you might have.”

While the virtual town hall streamed live on HISD-TV, questions submitted in advance were answered and will be posted at  

ABC 13’s Tom Abrahams served as moderator for the English town hall, and Univision 45’s Osvaldo Corral moderated the Spanish broadcast. Abrahams began by asking two HISD alumni – Juan Venancio, an alumnus of EMERGE-HISD and a freshman at Harvard University, and Morgan Jackson, a senior at Xavier University in Louisiana – how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted them.

“The biggest challenge has been the transition to online learning,” Venancio said. “Our professors and deans are available via Zoom, and they are helping us a lot.”

“As far as classes, at school I had access to camera equipment and editing software, but now I have to shoot and edit everything on my phone,” Jackson, a Mass Communication major, said. “My department at Xavier is close-knit, and they have been very supportive.”

Na’Taria Muse, senior manager of College Readiness, said that students should contact their college advisors virtually for the rest of the school year, during the summer, and even next fall while in college. A search tool located at is available for identifying college advisors.

Other topics addressed by participants during the town hall include:

  • College Readiness will continue to host virtual events such as the Finish Strong forum that took place April 29, and a COVID-19 page located here is available with updates from Texas colleges, testing information, FAQs, and more. Families impacted by the pandemic can submit a financial aid appeal to their college or university here.

  • Admissions officers will work with students on extending enrollment deadlines. Officers may reduce or waive deposit fees required to secure a spot at their institution. May 1 is still national college decision day, but extensions may be available, and funding can be requested, if necessary.

  • Students can still earn college credit in AP, IB, and dual credit courses, as well as UT OnRamps. Click here for information on taking AP exams online. AP reviews are available daily at For information on IB classes, see or email Dual credit classes resumed online March 31. HCC has instituted a pass/fail program for this semester, and summer dual credit will be online as well. See for more information. UT OnRamps enrollment continues. See for details.
  • HCC is supporting current and future students virtually by phone, computer, and email, as well as providing new student orientation virtually. Bacterial meningitis requirements have been extended until August 31. Families who are experiencing hardships due to COVID-19 may submit a financial aid appeal by completing a special circumstance form:

  • The University of Houston extending the application deadline to June 1 and is accepting unofficial transcripts online, moving summer orientation online, and allowing students to take the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) test remotely. Fees are being waived, and students may upload letters of recommendation in lieu of taking the SAT. Students can apply for grants and take classes over the summer at a reduced cost. For information, call 713-743-1010 and select option 4 for Admissions, or visit

  • Texas Southern University is allowing students to email or upload everything online, including transcripts and bacterial meningitis records. Students may be able to take their  SAT or ACT at TSU or take them online through TSU. Summer orientation will be online. TSU financial aid is managed by the Department of Education, which has extended the deadline for admission and is re-evaluating financial aid packages.

  • HISD students and families can access resources relating to college access and enrollment at Information on resources such as counseling, wraparound services, food distribution, and more for families and students affected by COVID-19 can be found at