Felicia McCrary has an important role at Wyoming High School: help students get into college. She recently did just that, co-organizing a week of events during which 250 seniors sat down and applied.
“I help them through the whole college journey, speaking with teachers, creating the awareness of college, meeting with students and walking them through the process of financial aid and scholarships,” said McCrary, the school’s college adviser, a new position funded by a grant from Michigan College Access Network.
McCrary and counselor Anne Harig recently hosted College Application Week to help streamline the often overwhelming process of getting students from senior year to their freshman year in college.
During English class, seniors in the Class of 2016 applied to colleges using Chromebooks, sent out transcripts and completed applications. Nearly every senior applied to Grand Rapids Community College.
They also visited with college representatives and heard from teachers about their college experiences.
Wyoming High School received a $5,000 Reach Higher grant from Michigan College Action Network to host events and programs for the statewide College Application Week. Wyoming is one of 100 Michigan schools to receive the grant to boost efforts to help students pursue education beyond high school.
♥Finding the Right College
Students said the week opened their eyes to opportunities at schools they hadn’t considered, and got them started on finding the right fit. It also saved a lot of time.
Senior Jakara Love applied to Texas A&M University, University of Houston, Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Central Michigan University. She wants to be a pre-veterinary medicine major.
It was a big relief to get it done at school,” she said. “I don’t have time to fill out applications at home. I work and I have homework.”
Sacoyia Whiteside applied to Wayne State University, Western and GRCC. “It helped me out because I didn’t expect to fill out a lot of applications for college,” she said.
During the week, representatives visited from Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Hope College. Throughout the year, representatives visit from many other Michigan schools.
Creating a College-going Culture
The grant program, along with McCrary’s position, affords Wyoming the money and manpower to create programs to educate and support students and their parents. “Our ultimate goal is to remove barriers to an education beyond 12th grade,” Harig said.
There is a high population of potential first-generation college students at Wyoming, said McCrary, who was the first in her family to go. They often feel lost in the application process.
About 73 percent of students in Wyoming Public Schools come from economically disadvantaged families. About 58 percent of students in the 2013-2014 graduating class went on to college, according to Mischooldata.org.
But Harig said educators have created a college-going culture at the school.
Another new pathway is through the Wyoming Middle College Program. More than 160 students are enrolled in the tuition-free dual program between the district and Grand Rapids Community College. Students graduate in five years with an associate’s degree.
“Teachers are becoming a secondary advocate and are as much a part of the process as (me and McClary),” Harig said. “I’m seeing it happen, and it’s cool.”