College Night at West Ranch

September 18, 2015

A steady flow of parents and students were met with a warm welcome and a smile from Suzanne Van Amberg, the head counselor on campus, as they attended College Night in the theatre on Sept. 16, 2015, an event put on by the Guidance and Counseling Department in order to educate students and parent on the college admissions process. It began to decline into a slow trickle as the presentation began. Councilor Christine Reynoso opened by introducing herself and the agenda for the night to her audience.

After assuring the seniors and their parents of their long, busy, but promising road ahead, Reynoso got the conversation going with discussing the “college starter pack,” helpful information that the counselors recommend students have at the ready when applying such as an unofficial transcript, testing scores, extracurricular activities, and the plastic that makes it all possible, a credit card. It was stressed that it is crucial to not only research colleges, but their specific applications requirements as well. Applications do have a fee‒ remember the plastic‒ and it’s a shame to find out one was incomplete after submissions.

The conversation then transitioned to various kinds of applications available to students from the UC and CSU systems to the Common App and other applications . Reynoso broke down the process and pointed out the different nuances for each. On her webpage, she even has a series of instructional videos and webinars that assist with applying. Naviance is also an excellent tool for admissions. It not only helps and keeps track of your college search, but also helps students with looking beyond past UCs and CSUs. The presentation touched on different topics such as letters of recommendation, scholarships, and the thing near to our hearts (and pockets), financial aid.

“I realized that I have a lot more to do to apply to college,” said senior Isaac Howse. “I just need to get up on the books.”

College night was a beneficial for the parents as it was for the students. If they weren’t fixated on Reynoso or the PowerPoint, parents were energetically scribbling away notes and pearls of wisdom on their agendas. Reynoso told anecdotes of her own experiences with her students and children to relate with the parents‒ as a previous English teacher, she even had to resist the urge to rewrite her daughters’ essays for them.

After a quick Q&A, parents and their students left with a little more peace of mind about the college admissions process.

“There’s colleges available to anyone who wants to go to college,” said Van Amberg. “Really take a good look at the fit, what college fits best for that student, not the name brands.”

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