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Longview High program encourages juniors to start early to prepare for college

By Megan Whitworth
Jan. 12, 2016 at 12:31 a.m.

Gaylon Wiley listens to Longview ISD Foundation director Kay Ray speak with Longview High School juniors about preparing for college early, on Monday January 11, 2016, in the Mickey Melton Performing Arts Center. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

Juniors at Longview High School attended presentations Monday to learn more about getting ready for college.

More than 400 students attended the Planning Now for College presentation, broken up into segments throughout the school day, finished today with encouragement for them to start preparing for college, Longview ISD Education Foundation Director Kay Ray said.

"We want our kids to know they can go to college," she said. "If you have to work for minimum wage, life may not be as good as if you get a college degree, some kind of post-secondary training."

Beginning last week, students started researching colleges, universities and technical schools. Each junior completed a form and answered questions about two "reach" (their dream) schools, three "target" (their more realistic choice) schools, schools within their financial means, and a "safety" school for a back-up plan.

"We want you to have some options, instead of you begging to go, you have some options, and maybe these people will beg you to come," Ray said. "But you've got a target school, you've got a reach school, you've got something. You've got a plan."

During the presentation, Ray taught the students what to expect on the ACT and SAT, looking further into choosing a college, what a grade point average is, applying for Texas colleges at applytexas.org, applying for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and visiting colleges.

"A lot of our students ... you may have parents who didn't graduate from high school, much less college," Ray said. "You've got to inform the kids; (their parents) didn't go through this, and they don't know how it works. Even some of the ones who told me both mom and dad went; it has changed so (much).

"We are trying to educate them about college so they can go and be educated to have a good life," she added.

The students will go on to have classroom learning about continuing their education. Before March in their English classes, students, under the direction of their teachers, are going to write both of the essays that will be on the ACT and SAT from released topics so they are prepared to write essays on the real tests and understand the rubric by which they are scored, Ray said.

"It really helped me out with what is coming ahead so I can go ahead and get all of this stuff done for what I want to do," junior Jermie Jones said. "I want to major in music at Stephen F. Austin State University."

Also Monday, Longview High School senior Alyson Roper was presented with a $215,000 NROTC Marine Option scholarship during a presentation for high school juniors Monday afternoon in the Mickey Melton Performing Arts Center at the school.

Roper is an example of what can be completed early when planning for your future, Ray said.

Roper had to go through an application process, write three different essays, and go through interviews to apply for the scholarship, Executive Officer of Dallas Recruiting Lawrence Seiler said.

Roper plans to attend George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in August and join their Reserve Officers Training Program. After graduation, she plans to become an officer in the Marine Corps.

"It's really exciting. I can't stop smiling," Roper said.

She advises high school juniors to "be involved as much as you can."

"Go for it; work hard. It definitely pays off," Roper said. "Be involved as much as you can; that was definitely something that everyone has been telling me that showed up on my package — that was a good bonus."

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