This post is part of a series about Noble’s preparation for the upcoming school year.

In-person school ended in March in Illinois but learning and the college application process certainly didn’t. So how did seniors and their college counselors manage the FAFSA, application deadlines, scholarships and all the rest of the college process? We sat down with Noble college counselor Kameshia Ward and Hansberry College Prep Class of 2020 graduate Jalynn Neal to hear how things went.

By way of background, all seniors at Noble take a class called collegiate seminar. The class meets every other day and in it students apply to around 10 colleges, complete the financial aid and ultimately decide on their next steps after high school with the support of their families and college counselors.

MM: Thanks so much for making the time! Kameshia, what did your day to day look like as a college counselor during the spring while instruction was remote?
KW: This spring my day to day varied, because I have multiple roles at Hansberry including teaching, dean of college counseling and an advisor. In the college counseling role in particular my day to day consisted of phone calls with students, 4-5 students a day usually 30 minutes to one hour conversations with the students on my caseload. Additionally we used email and text messaging communication to keep parents and students in the loop with what was going on with their college lists, acceptances, their financial aid etc. And then later in the spring, we had a lot of conference calls with students and their schools. So being that middle man on the phone with the admissions reps or financial aid rep at the school and my students. 

MM: To Jalynn, what did that support look like from your college counselor?
JN: It really didn’t change much for me or most kids because Ms. Ward made herself available the same way she previously did. With everything going on there weren’t any definites with whether colleges were going to be accepting students onto campus but it didn’t really stop her (Ms. Ward) from helping us to prepare as if we were going to continue on with our post-secondary plans. She equipped us with everything we needed and made sure we had a balance between independence as well as support. She wasn’t babying us but giving us these resources as we were matriculating into college  and allowing us to use the resources to be independent and seek the answers we needed to pursue our next level.

It really taught me the importance of building relationships – so now that I’m in college having that person to go to. At first I was kind of stressed out not being able to see my teachers every day was hard but having that person make themselves available for any help whether it was academic or emotional support – that really lifted a load off and allowed me to focus on academics.

MM: Jalynn, do you have any advice for students heading into their senior year this year?
JN: My first piece of advice would definitely be to prioritize and be proactive, specifically for these upcoming seniors who have remote learning at the start. Take advantage of this opportunity and look at it as a positive. It gives you an idea of how college is going to be, speaking specifically to the flexibility in your schedule. Don’t just take it as an opportunity to relax but let me get ahead on some things or prioritize my time and do things that will be beneficial to me. Gives you a chance to balance your academic and your social life. 

Also, don’t have your mind set on just one location after high school. I was all over the place at first then I set my mind on one school but there were some financial struggles and it was stressing me out and my family out. And then I actually got an acceptance from another school that I hadn’t really been considering and I ended up accepting that and it took a ton of stress off – so keep your options open.

MM: to Kameshia, all in where did things land for college applications at Hansberry – how many applications, acceptances, matriculations?
KW: Overall, Hansberry College Prep’s Class of 2020 was comprised of 105 seniors who submitted over 900 college applications, leading to every student receiving at least 1 college acceptance and $10 million in scholarships. This is a representation of their hard work over the past four years. We are so excited to continue this journey with them through post-secondary success. 

MM: And, can’t let you leave without asking, Jalynn, where did you end up with your decision this spring?
JN: I am now at Fisk University with a full tuition scholarship majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. I made this decision because I had to be a little bit more open minded because it wasn’t just about the name of the school but about what it had to offer me. I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and Fisk has a 3-2 program where you start your medical school program early and we also have small class size ratios. So continuing that familial setting from Hansberry to college was important for me, and it makes me feel that I will be successful. 

MM: Congratulations, wish you the best of luck in the next chapter and thanks for taking the time!

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