For many students, the most challenging aspect of college admissions is simply figuring out which universities they should consider when applying.
“Many students either under-match themselves and say, ‘Oh, I won’t get into these schools so let me only shoot for the schools I know I can get into,’” said Dineca Walker, a counselor for USF’s Pinellas Access to Higher Education (PATHe) program. “Or they overmatch themselves and say, ‘I’m going to get into Harvard or Yale’ and not consider other options.”
Walker and her PATHe colleagues will offer guidance on this topic and many others during Discover Your PATHe, a free series of virtual workshops designed to assist Pinellas County high school students in making post-graduation plans.
There are two sessions planned for students. Rising Pinellas County juniors and seniors can choose to attend the workshops on June 15-17 from 1 to 5 p.m. or on August 3-5 from 1 to 5 p.m.
There will also be two sessions for parents and other family members. The first is June 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the second is Aug. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The purpose of the event is to de-bunk the myths surrounding the college admissions process, as well as equip students and their parents with the necessary tools to navigate their journey. By the end, students will have had the opportunity to connect with peers from different high schools, hear from current college students and will receive materials and resources to continue their post-high school plans.
PATHe is a community outreach program offered by USF’s St. Petersburg campus and St. Petersburg College to provide equitable and attainable pathways to higher education for all students.
This is the second year for Discover Your PATHe. Originally envisioned as an in-person event, the team quickly pivoted to remote due to COVID-19. All of the sessions will be hosted on Microsoft Teams.
Students are encouraged to attend all three days of the session. The first day is devoted to comparing and contrasting options for secondary education and will feature a panel of college students who will describe their experiences.
The second day will focus on bringing clarity and understanding to the admissions process.
“We’ll be discussing things that people constantly say, buzzwords like ‘early admissions,’” said Charlene Agyemang, a PATHe counselor. “We’ll be breaking it down so the students really understand the basics and the language.”
The third day is dedicated to financial aid and career exploration. It will feature some very special guests: participants from the documentary series “Road Trip Nation,” which encourages young people to discover their passions and interests while selecting a career path.
Event organizers said it was also very important to host workshops specifically for parents and family members. Sandy DeCarlo, a PATHe counselor, said the majority of the questions they receive throughout the year come from parents.
“We’re finding there are many parents who have never been through this experience or they feel that things have changed so much since they were in college and they really are looking for someone to guide them through the process,” DeCarlo said.
The sessions will feature fun activities and opportunities for students to meet those who are already in college, as well as connect with high school peers. Participants will also be provided with materials that will help them throughout the college applications process.
“We hope that by the end of the program, parents and students are more informed about how to make decisions,” Walker said. “I think we all know that going to college is a difficult process and I don’t think there’s any way to make it easier. But all we can do is make people fully aware of the impact of those decisions so they can say they did it with all the information they needed.”
To learn more or to register, please visit stpetersburg.usf.edu/pathe.