By Aaron Blevins, 9/20/2012
Feuer organizes event to help students attend college
Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-California) has paired Fairfax High School juniors and seniors with a new study buddy: resources to pursue their post-secondary education.
For the last two years, the high school has operated without a college counselor due to budget cuts. In hopes of filling the void, the school held a mandatory college fair last week that was organized through Feuer’s office.
“There’s got to be a way to fill this gap without the presence of a college counselor,” Feuer said at the event. “I’m hopeful this will create opportunities they wouldn’t be fully aware of.”
More than 30 colleges and organizations attended. Students were able to seek information from, and ask questions of, a number of institutions, including every University of California campus, 16 California State University schools, a handful of private schools, military organizations and junior colleges.
“Geographically, people traveled from all over the state to be here at this college fair,” Feuer said, adding that the students appeared very engaged. “I’m hearing a lot of ambition.”
Information was supplied that instructed students on how to apply for financial aid, how to get resources for scholarships and how to prepare for the ACT and SAT. Organizers also offered insights into the LACER Afterschool Program, which offers enrichment activities in visual art, music, dance, film, sports and academic support.
Senior Dawit Assefa, a LACER student who is looking to major in engineering, was certainly taking advantage. He said he had an opportunity to learn more about engineering programs at schools that were not on his radar.
“Now, I know what schools are good for me,” Assefa said, adding that UC Davis was among those schools. “I’m interested to go there too.”
Senior Perla Lopez said the event helped compensate for the lack of a college counselor on campus this year.
“It makes it easier to get information,” she said.
The effort was also appreciated among the Fairfax High School staff, as the school looks to ensure that every Lion is college-bound. Assistant principal Dave Siedelman said it was exciting and reassuring to see the students taking the college fair seriously.
“Without having a college counselor for the last two years … it was absolutely imperative that we got some kind of outreach for students looking to go to college,” he said.
Siedelman said the upperclassmen used their history classes to attend the fair, but underclassmen were able to visit with the colleges and organizations in attendance after school. He said more than 1,200 students attended the event.
The college fair, though, was more than booths and discussions. Siedelman said assistant principal Rene Barbosa also partnered with UC Riverside to host a workshop on writing a solid admissions essay.
Both Feuer’s office and the high school hope to turn the college fair into an annual event. Feuer, who has two children in college, said he hopes to provide a template to his successor for repeat events after he is termed out this year.
“It’s a very personal thing from my standpoint,” he said.
Siedelman said the success of this year’s college fair should help guide the high school in subsequent years. He said the school is building a track record with local politicians, and the success of the event may entice other organizations to participate.
“Even the colleges were impressed,” Siedelman added.