For Hermiston High School senior Lydia Scott, having the chance to apply for college and technical schools during school hours is a time saver.
Scott said she is interested in a career as an auto mechanic but, because Hermiston High School doesn’t offer an automotive program, the only way she can gain experience in that field is through the projects she has worked on with her stepfather and through additional schooling after high school.
Scott said completing college and technical school applications during school hours not only saves her time, it gives her the opportunity to have her questions answered and get help when she needs it.
“It helps being able to apply in school,” she said. “My week is so full as a senior. It’s hard to find the time to get all of these things done. Senior year is pretty busy.”
This week, Hermiston High School, in addition to Stanfield, Echo and Umatilla high schools, are participating in National College Application Week, which encourages schools to provide students with the chance to apply to colleges and technical schools with the idea that it will give them a jump start to their future.
HHS counselor Melody Bustillos said, in this day and age, additional schooling after high school, whether it is through a four-year university or a technical or trade school, is more than necessary.
She said by 2030, 90 percent of jobs will require at least some sort of training simply because of advancements in technology. She said that’s why introducing students to their options early on in their senior years is particularly helpful for students.
Bustillos said the week not only serves to encourage students to apply for four-year universities. The goal is to also get students thinking about life after high school and to reach those students who will still need training for their future professions even if they do not attend college.
“Our main purpose is to get every senior to talk to an adult about their plans for after high school,” she said. “Even though it is called college application week, the conversations we are having with kids are the most important. We don’t want them wasting time and money on applications and programs they aren’t interested in.”
For the last several days, Scott said she has worked on applications to Blue Mountain Community College, even though it doesn’t have the exact program she wants, Walla Walla Community College and Helena College in Montana.
Other students are using the time to explore what universities offer so they can decide before applying if they want to attend.
Senior Alex Meyers said he has already been accepted to Portland State University, but he is still unsure that is where he wants to attend. He said he is considering applying to other universities across the country, including some in New York.
Meyers said having the chance to apply directly at school is a huge resource, especially since he typically leaves things to the last minute.
“I’m a big procrastinator, so being able to do this at school is nice,” he said.
Senior Mary Baumeister said she is a little more certain where she wants to apply. She said she is applying to Seattle Pacific University, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Occidental College in Los Angeles, New York University and Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She said she has used scheduled time in the computer lab during her advanced placement English class to complete some of her college application essays for those schools.
“It’s really nice,” she said. “It’s helpful to have teachers right there who have a lot of experience in this.”
Of the schools participating, each is hosting different activities to get students excited about applying to college and investing in their futures.
At Stanfield Secondary School, Principal Bryan Johnson said the school is hosting themed dress-up days, where students and staff are encouraged to wear their favorite university colors and apparel. The school also has its computer labs open during the week for students to complete college applications; students have heard from faculty at various universities; and parents and students have heard about obtaining financial aid.
Umatilla High School Principal Scott Depew said students and parents will get to learn more about the college application process and visit with colleges on Thursday.
In Echo, counselor Whitney Galstad said she is visiting with each student about his or her college plans this week.
“For many of the students, just providing a time during the school day and a laptop with Internet access and a counselor to initiate the process and guide them through is key,” she said.