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Oakland Unified School District hosts college fair

on October 25, 2017

It was a busy afternoon at Oakland Technical High School as students from all over Oakland gathered in the school’s cafeteria to meet with college admissions counselors from all over the country. Students walked around with smiles on their faces after speaking to different college admissions counselors about possibilities for their futures. Admissions counselors greeted prospective students by passing out brochures featuring their school. Parents trailed behind their students anxious to see which counselor they would talk with next.

Nikko Roxas works with UC Berkeley Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) and helped organized the college fair on October 10. Roxas invited 50 admissions counselors to Oakland Tech to talk with students about the requirements for their schools and inform them about the resources available to them at their universities. Some of the schools featured were Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, California State University Sacramento, and the University of Nevada, Reno.

“We are here at Oakland Tech because this is a really good school for a lot of reasons,” said Justin Bouldt, an admissions and recruitment coordinator for the University of Nevada, Reno.   “One, it is really centrally located in the heart of the Bay Area. It’s an incredibly diverse part of the state and there are a lot of ways to reach students from different backgrounds. This is a great place to come and visit, because a lot of these students really do have the ability to be successful in college.”

The college fair attracted roughly 100 to 150 students. The students represented many different Oakland public schools such as Skyline, Fremont, Oakland High, and Oakland Tech, all with different dreams in mind for college.

“I really just want to expand my horizons. I have always had my childhood dream of attending Cal, UC Berkeley, but I definitely want to reach out and learn about different colleges all across the country. That is what I am hoping to achieve today,” said Nadia Brooks, a senior at Skyline High School.

Roxas assisted in hosting admissions counselors from diverse colleges all over the country, each with something unique to offer prospective students.

“We have really great resources for our students at Soka and great opportunities as well,” said Melany Del Carpio, an admissions counselor for Soka University of America, a small non-profit liberal arts college and graduate school in the city of Aliso Viejo, California. Despite being a small university, Soka has been ranked among the top 50 National Liberal Arts Colleges and Top 10 Best Value colleges by US News and World Report’s “Best Colleges 2017.”

“In financial aid, if a family’s income is $60,000 or less, we take care of all the tuition, which is $30,000,” Del Carpio continued. “Every student gets a MacBook computer, washer and dryer is free on campus, if you have a car there is free student parking, 19 meals per week. We really are student-centered when it comes to that. We don’t want to create any barriers for success, not matter what background you are coming from.”

According to data from between the years of 2008 and 2015, 71 percent of OUSD graduates went on to attend college.

Graphs of data from OUSD, made by Hyowon Lihinag-Tam by Nate on Scribd

The top three colleges attended by Oakland students are Laney College, Merritt College and College of Alameda.

The counselors at the college fair had discussions with prospective students about what they were looking for when it came to admissions into their universities.

“We are definitely looking for high-achieving students, students that have a lot of personal achievements,” said Salote Halatoa, an admission counselor for the University of Utah.

Many admissions counselors said how important it was for students to do well academically and challenge themselves to prepare for college-level courses.

“We are looking for a 3.0 academic GPA on their transcript, so that is just looking for English, math, science, and social science. Or at least an 1120 on the SAT or a 22 on the ACT,” said Bouldt. Achieving a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) means the student must maintain a “B” average in their classes. The SAT stands for Scholastic Assessment Test, and the ACT stands for the American College Testing program. Both of these examinations are designed to test high school student’s readiness for college level classes.

“We don’t require letters of recommendation or an essay, we just need high school transcripts and test scores, either the SAT or ACT,” said Halatoa.

 When students were asked about attending a two or four-year university upon graduating from high school, many felt strongly about going straight to four-year universities.

“I really want to go to a four-year college, because I have never been the student to transfer. I liked to be established,” said Adriana Villegas, a senior at Skyline High School.

“Definitely a four-year university! I just feel like it will be good to have that four-year college experience, and it will help me become more of an adult in the long run,” said Noah Hayes, a senior at Skyline High School.

 Many students said they believe that they have utilized their time well in high school and have been preparing themselves for the academic challenges of a four-year university.

“Similar to a lot of students, because it is very competitive right now, I have also taken AP and Honor classes, dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment, which means I am currently a college and a high school student,” said Villegas. “Apart from that, being really involved in my school and my community doing things such as having two internships with my youth center. Also, being a part of student government.”

Students expressed interest in different colleges because of the uniqueness of each program.

“I am mainly interested in Cal Poly, because they have kinesiology major which will help me track into becoming a physical therapist and it’s not a super common major,” said Hayes.

Kinesiology is the study of the body movement. For example, students can dive into the study of strength and conditioning, rehabilitation, physical therapy and sports competition.

Many admission counselors offered advice on what they recommend students do when applying to their school. Counselors told students to be themselves and to make sure they talk about their strengths in their application. “Lastly, I tell students your grades are like your paycheck. Your job is to be student right now, so make sure you are getting the best grades you can,” said Del Carpio.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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