Photo by Corinne Nicholson
COVINGTON -- The counseling department at Eastside High School is giving students more opportunities to learn about post-secondary options this year.
Although students are able to visit colleges on their own time, the department wanted to start a new initiative this year to help them visit post-secondary schools that some students might not think of as an option.
"It is very important students visit a college prior to making the decision to attend instead of based on friends attending or a virtual tour," said Tina Daniel-Reasey, a counselor at Eastside High School.
Last week, the department started a new program that partners the school with Covington First United Methodist Church to take students on field trips to area colleges. The College Van Plan takes students on trips to learn more about two- and four-year colleges and universities, and Technical Trail allows students to visit technical colleges.
"The two segments of this program are geared to post secondary options for all students," Daniel-Reasey said. "When students met with me individually for their senior evaluation, we discussed educational plans after high school. I have a list of students who have expressed interest in various colleges and universities, as well as technical colleges. I wanted all students to be able to have access to both options."
On Friday, the department took 13 senior students from EHS on its first field trip to the University of Georgia in Athens.
"We had a great time," Daniel-Reasey said. "Prior to the trip, I made a group reservation and worked with the UGA admissions office to schedule the time and be assigned our own tour guide."
A UGA student took the group from the famous Arch on North Campus to the new multimillion-dollar student center. Students also were able to tour an auditorium-style classroom and hear advice about classes, professors and grades, which Daniel-Reasey said was beneficial for students.
"Attending the college visit relieved much of the uncertainty that I had concerning the college years," said senior Josh Smith. "Going to the UGA campus and seeing what is expected on a day-to-day basis from college students helped prepare me mentally for next year. The tremendous differences between high school and college were obvious, and many of the questions that I had about college before the trip were answered."
Other students said the visit helped them make a decision about what college to attend in the fall.
EHS students who sign up with the counseling department next will take a trip to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta on Oct. 28, Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville on Nov. 16, the University of West Georgia on Jan. 13, North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega on Feb. 3, Athens Technical College on Feb. 24, DeKalb Technical College on March 10 and Georgia Perimeter College on April 13. At each, students expect to tour the campus, attend a session with the admissions office and ask a tour guide questions and advice about the school, admissions and college life.
Students pay $2 to help pay for gas in the FUMC vans that take the students on the trip as part of the partnership. A member of the church also attends the trips.
"Due to budget cuts and being unable to have the bus transportation, we had to get creative," Daniel-Reasey said. "Community partnership was key, and Covington First UMC was extremely willing to partner with us to provide this opportunity for students."
The EHS counseling department hopes to talk more with other area churches and organizations to possibly expand the new program next school year, she said.
This year, the department also has started a school counselor advisory council, which is comprised of counselors, a graduation coach, an administrator, teachers, parents, students and other community members to develop a more data-driven counseling program to meet the needs of all students. The group is scheduled to meet from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, March 21 and May 16 in the school's media center conference room.
EHS seniors and their families also are encouraged to attend the remaining parent workshops given by the counseling department this school year. College costs and the Georgia Student Finance Commission will be discussed Oct. 14, college applications on Nov. 9, and financial aid and the Georgia Student Finance Commission on Jan. 25. They usually are held at 6:30 p.m. in the school auditorium.
The Senior Survival Guide is available on the school website and lists all of the workshops and information for seniors and their families.