High School Students | College Prep
We coach our high school students to ensure their completion of college preparatory coursework to achieve CSU and UC eligibility. We also provide standardized test preparation, college application preparation, financial aid workshops, and access to summer enrichment opportunities and internships.
College counseling begins during our students’ freshmen year. We work to ensure that each student attends a college or university that is their best “fit” and “match.” We provide students with one-on-one advising and small group support as they research college options and navigate the college application and financial aid process. We provide resources for students and families to understand the importance of finding their best college fit empowered by their own knowledge and research. During their sophomore year, students will participate in a project titled, “Sophomore Symposium,” that allows them to research and present on a college that interests them. This begins the college research process for students to identify and learn more about the various college systems available to them. As juniors, our student work with their advisor to build robust college lists based on their interests and college profile.
We take high school students on a week-long tour of UC, CSU, and private college campuses in the Bay Area and southern California as they prepare to apply for college. We host college presentations and organize college application workshops that expose our students to the wide array of college options outside of California. Students are encouraged to attend local college fairs such as the annual NACAC and Colleges that Change Lives fairs.
We also partner with college admissions offices to provide students opportunities to visit private colleges outside of California via each college’s “Fly-In Program.” Students participate in monthly advisories which are facilitated by our staff and include college presentations, research, college application and financial aid workshops, etc.; each advisory workshop allows our students to navigate the college application process.
Parents are our partners during this process. Parents are invited to attend workshops and presentations at least once a semester, and our staff conducts family meetings with each student and their family throughout the college application and financial aid process.
Our high school advisors coach students to help them become competitive college candidates. We do this by teaching them to access the academic resources available at their high school campus, empowering students to communicate with teachers, and teaching them about the important role that GPA and academic performance have in college admissions.
Advisors monitor students’ grades and design academic plans to help them obtain at least a 3.0 GPA*. In the 2016-2017 school year, 70% of our high school students maintained a GPA at or above a 3.0 and 45% of students had a 3.5 GPA or above.
Students work closely with their advisors to select courses that align with their intended college major. Advisors also encourage students to take Honors and AP courses and help them to design a challenging, yet manageable academic course load.
In high school, students develop tangible career readiness skills, which helps that obtain and succeed in their first summer internships and beyond. Additionally, students will have access to a network of professionals in careers that interest them through large-scale career events.
Specific program activities include:
First Career Workshops
A series of workshops designed to develop career readiness skills, such as resume writing, job interview techniques, professional communication, career assessments, personal branding, and networking.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go – Career Panels
A panel of diverse professionals, from university professors to nutritionists to engineers, shares with their career stories with students and provide concrete details about their career pathway.
Exploring the Possibilities
Annual event aimed at exposing students to a variety of industries or “possibilities”. This event is hosted in collaboration with industry-leading companies that create and present an interactive workshop for the students. Companies involved in ETP 2014 included PG&E, Golub Group, Gap, Airbnb, Digitas, and LinkedIn.
Summer Opportunities Fair
First Graduate partners with a diverse group of community partners which offer job and internship opportunity for youth. At the annual Summer Opportunities Fair, high school students connect and network with these organizations as they work towards securing an exciting summer opportunity that will allow them to gain new skills and knowledge.
First Graduate provides one-on-one coaching to students and their families for applying to a variety of scholarships offered by our scholarship partners and funders. We also help students research additional scholarships options, successfully complete and submit applications.
During monthly advisories, our staff makes sure that students have the tools they need to calculate their financial aid needs, read financial aid letters, apply for assistance (FAFSA, California DREAM Act, CSS profile), and make informed financial aid decisions. First Graduate also offers bilingual financial aid workshops to help better inform families.
High school freshmen and sophomores take the ACT Aspire exam, a practice test that focuses on college readiness. Advisors then review these scores with students to explain the meaning, areas of excellence, and areas of growth.
We partner with the Aspire Education Project which provides a 7-week ACT test prep program to our high school juniors. The program includes a pre- and post-test and ACT instructors provide students with the necessary knowledge and tools to be successful on the exam. All First Graduate juniors take the formal ACT test during the spring of their junior year after completing the prep program.
First Graduate covers the expense of all test prep courses and pays for students to take two college entrance exams. Once the students receive their scores, they meet with their advisors to understand how the results fit into their college profile.