"What made me really want to go to college was to see if I had potential enough to succeed and live on my own," said Christopher. He was also motivated by "the work that we did [in high school] and the advice that I received from my teachers and counselors. My Reach for College! course instructor, Ms. Holmes, helped me realize what I wanted to do with my life and how I can give back to my community for what they have given to me." When he looks back at high school Chris said he was also convinced to go to college because, "I lived in a bad neighborhood, I saw what went on with people who chose not to continue their education and how life can deteriorate over time. So that is what motivated me to go to college."
Enjoying Social and Academic Life in College
Christopher is now a first year student at Wilberforce University in Ohio, after graduating from Booker T. Washington Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. in June, 2009. He says is enjoying the social and academic life in college and plans to pursue a major in Social Work, obtain a Master's degree and return to D.C. to work as a Family Social Worker or a Probation Officer.
Reach for College! Helped in Several Ways
Christopher was a participant in several aspects of the Reach for College! program. The RFC curriculum was incorporated into one of his courses in high school, he was in the RFC Summerbridge Program last summer, and he received a RFC Scholarship.
He said, "I would recommend the Reach for College! class because Reach for College! has helped me a whole lot, not only because of the scholarship, but because they enlightened my horizons on college, what to expect, what to get out of college–what I really came here for."
The RFC class also helped with the academic side of college, he said, "because that is a college class that helped us prepare our essay, how to write a five paragraph essay, how to do a college application, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), understanding what your acceptance letter says and everything that has to do with the college application process." He attributed his ease in the transition to the academic side of college because of the environment he came from at his high school and the exposure he had to rigorous essay writing in the RFC class.
Money for College is a Challenge
One of the most difficult aspects in preparing for college, he said, was, "the financial aid part because you have to worry about whether or not you have enough money such as the extra two or five thousand dollars that you might have to pay out of your pocket." Chris said that adults can help in the enrollment process. "My adults around me made sure I had enough money in scholarships or loans to prepare for the financial aid part of school, the correct resources that I would need, and they made me call the school to see what I need to bring in order to bring to be successful in college."
Advice for Students Back Home Still in High School
"More students from our community need to know how to get to college, as well as how to use the different types of resources available to them about how to get to college and succeed while in college." He thinks if more people were attending college, "it would help the community a lot because you will not have too much stress on youth today depending on whether or not they have to be homeless one month and have a house the next month and be homeless the month after, so they will not be back and forth to shelters, and can provide a stable home for themselves or future family members."
What advice he would give to a high school student applying for college now? Chris said, "Start applying the first day you get back to school, don't wait until the deadlines are approaching because they will approach fast without you noticing. So just start your application process quickly because colleges do get a lot of applications per year that they have to go through, so just get yours down early to get your decision made before the latecomers are rushing to get their applications in. Use time management and just plan ahead."