Dyanmic Mentorship – UNITE Inc.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with the founder of UNITE Inc, Mr. Travis Smith. UNITE was founded in 2011 with a mission to promote leadership, scholarship, and social awareness while motivating and empowering youth to dream and achieve educational success.

UNITE provides a holistic mentoring approach that focuses on college preparation for high school students and college retention for undergraduate students. UNITE students participate in various activities including community service, professional development workshops, and an annual Spring Break HBCU College Tour.

To become a member of UNITE, incoming high school juniors may submit an application during the month of April, located on unitementoring.com. Students will be required to provide an unofficial transcript, essay, and a letter of recommendation. College students may get involved in the college retention program at Alabama State University by contacting Mr. Sharod Campbell at sharodcampbell@unitementoring.com.

UNITE Inc. intends to expand the organization further by offering career development services and graduate school preparation. Follow UNITE on Facebook for new programs, success stories, or to donate!

Watch success stories here.

Facebook: UNITE INC

~Dr. Owens

 

 

The Importance of College Visits

There are over 5,000 college and universities in the US, so students have a lot of choices. No matter which school students select, I ALWAYS encourage them to visit each institution. You may think,  a school, is a school, is a school. But, like all individuals are unique, institutions are as well. For example, at the University at Albany students classified as resident freshmen are not allowed to purchase a parking pass for their vehicle. Therefore, they are not allowed to park on campus. On the other hand, at Paul Quinn College all students must wear business casual clothing from 8am to 5:30pm. These are some details that you may not consider when applying online to colleges or perusing their websites. But, during a campus visit, you could observe environments and student’s behaviors. Here are some services and offices to check out when touring each campus. I have also added some potential questions to ask staff and faculty.

Residence Halls 

Dorm

  • Are all halls co-ed or single-sex?
  • Which dormitories have stores or dining halls?
  • Can I have a room with one, two, three, four, or more roommates?
  • Do I have to vacate my room for each school break?
  • Is it possible to have a private restroom?
  • What items am I not allowed to have in the dorms?
  • Are students responsible for cleaning common areas?
  • Who is a Resident Assistant (RA) and what is their role?
  • Will there be a phone line and cable television in my room?
  • What are the prices of each residence hall?
  • Are upperclassmen allowed to reside on-campus?

Libraries

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  • What are the library borrowing policies?
  • How many libraries are located on campus?
  • Are there study rooms available in each library?
  • How can librarians assist me?
  • How much are printing fees?
  • Is there a fee to scan and copy documents?
  • How many free computer labs are loated on campus?

Health Center

First Aid

  • Does the institution offer health insurance for students?
  • Can I use my parent’s insurance at the school’s health center?
  • What types of physicians are available at the health center?
  • Does the health center offer walk-in hours and appointments?
  • What is the co-pay to use the health center?
  • Is there pharmacy on-campus?

Major Department/Program

Major

  • Which courses are required to complete my major?
  • Are all major courses offered every semester? If not, is there a copy of the course rotation?
  • Can I sit in a required class during my visit?
  • Does this department/program offer free tutorial assistance?
  • Are there free printing services available for students?
  • Are courses taught by professors or graduate students?
  • How can I apply for scholarships and grants within my major?
  • How do I learn about internship opportunities related to my major?

Financial Aid Office & Bursar

Financial Aid

  • Can I meet with an advisor to seek institutional scholarships and grants?
  • What are the dates for disbursement payments from my financial aid?
  • How do I find out if I am eligible for work study?
  • Can I get financial aid to fund summer semesters?
  • What are the fees associated with attending this institution?
  • Is there a payment plan option to pay my bill?
  • What are the semester deadlines to pay my bill?
  • Are there late fees if I do not pay my bill by the due date?

Visiting the aforementioned recommended offices and departments can help you learn more about the campus and gain a feel for your prospective college. Explore every nook and cranny of an institution and speak with students to learn their experiences. Also, while visiting colleges don’t forget to check out the areas surrounding the institution. Feel free to contact me if you have questions regarding college visits.

~Dr. O

The Clemson Career Workshop

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In July, Clemson University will host a college preparation camp for 50 high-achieving students. Rising high school seniors will experience college life through living in the residence halls, eating in dining halls, and taking classes with faculty. Below are some quotes from previous camp participants.

“My favorite parts of the camp were the classes and getting to know everybody.”
“My definition of success is many friends in many places – great stories and memories to share.”
“It was an honor to meet the president and learn interesting facts.”
Click The Clemson Career Workshop for more information. 
Application Deadline: Friday, April 21, 2017.
Take advantage of this great summer enrichment opportunity.
~Dr. O

How I Found My Dream College

 

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I was introduced to the concept of college through watching A Different World. Since my family and I regularly watched the Cosby Show we also tuned in for Denise’s transition to college. Denise Huxtable left home and lived on campus at Hillman College, a Historically Black College. As a legacy student (both her parents and grandparents graduated from Hillman), Denise learned about Hillman’s expectations from her parents.

As a first-generation college student, I viewed A Different World as the model college experience. The show highlighted various aspects of campus life including residence life, majors outside of being a doctor, lawyer or teacher, and Black Greek Letter Organizations. I gleaned that college was fun, yet challenging. At this juncture in my life, I knew that higher education was in my future. As I grew older, I found that my parents were adamant about me attending a high school that offered a college preparatory curriculum. We also applied to participate in co-curricular programs that would enhance my chances of attending a good school.

During my junior year of high school, I began receiving applications from colleges throughout the nation. Since schools were sending me information, I was confident that I was a shoe-in for their college, right? Therefore, I decided that the school that sent me the most information was my Dream College. I set my sights on moving to Missouri to live my own version of A Different World. 

Although I had found my dream college, I still went on college tours, participated in college fairs, and applied to 10 colleges. Throughout my senior year, I learned that I gained acceptance along with either partial or full financial support to 9 of the 10 institutions. I was surprised when I received notification that I DID NOT GET INTO MY DREAM COLLEGE! Not a conditional admit or an interview, they just said, “NO”.

After this major disappointment, I began to carefully consider the other 9 schools. I had not visited many of these schools, so I depended on their brochures for information. After sharing the news with my mother about my dream deferred, we went on a few campus visits. While meeting with a financial aid officer at a college in the southeast, my mother explained that any loans I incurred would be my responsibility to repay. This is the first time during this application process that I had closely considered the cost of attendance and how I could realistically pay for school. As a result of our tours and conversations, I decided to enroll in a small liberal arts institution in my hometown.

My dream school had been right under my nose, and I didn’t know it! This school offered a superb scholarship package including free room and board, and a desktop computer. My classes were challenging and required me to think critically. Moreover, I was a member of a collaborative learning community. Through living on campus I secured a campus job and had time attend faculty office hours. I participated in on-campus activities and developed lifelong relationships with peers.

I am thankful that I did not get accepted into my so-called dream college, and that my real dream college was literally right around the corner from me. Although I did not know what I wanted then, I learned that completing school debt-free was important to me. My institution had a wealth of resources that I could access to be successful in my courses. Also, all of my courses had no more than 25 students. Small class size was important because I like to ask a lot of questions. I had a rewarding experience at my alma mater and remain in contact with professors and other college personnel who were instrumental in my development.

I had a wayward college application process. Albeit weird, I selected a dream college based on which school sent me the most mail. I applied to colleges with no real direction and failed to consider what would fit my personality, skills, interests or learning style. Now that I work with high school students, I encourage them to think beyond school popularity.

For students who are going through the college admissions process, I urge them to think about what they value, and apply to schools based on their needs and interests. Students should spend time on campuses shadowing classes, eating with students, and attending events. I find that when students simulate college life, they begin to learn what they want from their college experience. Conducting this research will help students select a school where they believe they will thrive.

Good luck finding your dream college!

~Dr. Owens