CAPAC — Wading through the maze of college applications, financial aid forms and scholarship deadlines can be intimidating for both graduates and their parents. That's why the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) wants to help.
They'll host an informative seminar on March 4 at 7 p.m. at the Capac High School media center entitled 'Parents, Kids and College: What do I need to know to get my student in college?'
Presenter Cathy Busdicker encourages parents and their high school aged children to attend together.
"We want to make sure that kids and parents aren't nervous but comfortable with the work involved in getting into college," Busdicker said.
Topics to be covered include:
•What gets you in and what gets you money
•Standardized testing: ACT, SAT, PSAT
•The importance of grades
•Finding the college that fits
•College visits: What to expect in state and out of state and at public and private schools
Student Council members John Richards, Charlotte Clark, Ashley Mousseau and Ronnie Casillas post flyers at Capac High School for upcoming ‘Parents, Kids and College’ seminar on March 4. photo by Maria Brown.
•The application essay: 'Standing out from the crowd'
•Scholarships: Difference between need based and merit based
•Financial aid and the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form
Busdicker said the seminars are part of the local KnowHow2Go campaign undertaken by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, Economic Development Alliance, RESA and local school districts and the St. Clair County Community College.
The partnering agencies want to see the county's percentage of bachelor degree holders rise. Currently, only 12.8 percent of county resident 25 years or older have at least a bachelor's degree. That's well below the state average of 21.6 percent and national average of 24.9 percent.
It's a number that's often overlooked but plays a crucial role in the region's economy.
"Our economic development agencies are saying we need to have a more highly qualified workforce," Busdicker said.
"It becomes a 'which comes first' scenario—we need more high level jobs in St. Clair County to keep college graduates in St. Clair County and to attract industry we have to have a highly educated population."
What the county is striving for is to see more high school graduates go on to any kind of higher education, whether that's a two-year technical degree, starting at a community college or heading directly into a four-year college or university, she said.
One of the keys to seeing that happen, they believe, is getting parents involved and aware. All students have an equal opportunity to work with school counselors to apply for college, but they appear to have a distinct advantage when their parents help out.
Busdicker said she's also trying to spread the word that things are different from when parents attended college in the 70s and 80s, especially when it comes to admissions.
Some schools are particularly happy to have first generation students apply.
"It's no longer a negative to not have had a mom or dad finish a degree," Busdicker said.
The public is invited to attend the March 4 seminar in Capac.
Other upcoming college seminars will be offered March 18 at 6 p.m. at the Marysville High School and March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Yale High School.