South Summit Educational Talent Search
October 28, 2011
Choosing a college, getting all of the necessary credits, filling out the application and finding financial aid can be a daunting task for any high school senior. It’s even tougher for low-income students and those who may be the first in their families to continue their education beyond high school.
Students in seventh through 12th-grade in the South Summit School District are given the opportunity to enroll in the Educational Talent Search program funded by the federal government. The program specifically targets first-generation students and students coming from low-income families, according to Educational Talent Search Advisor Amy Regan.
South Summit Senior Cole Craggs enrolled in the ETS program in 7th-grade. He said they have been working on college applications and scholarship research throughout the year.
"Mainly we’ve been focusing on taking tests online that help us determine what field we would fit in," Craggs said. "Then we look up the colleges online and find out what scholarships we can apply for."
Craggs said he recently decided to apply to the University of Utah after he spoke with a professor in the Entertainment Art and Engineering Department. Craggs hopes to pursue a degree in online gaming and design.
"Now I’m filling out applications and applying for as many scholarships as I can. I’m trying to get that application in for early enrollment, so we’ll see how that goes," Craggs said.
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The ETS program meets once a month for about 30 minutes, according to Regan, who said she gives students a lot of handouts and websites to help them with the college application process. Regan said because the program is federally funded, the school district had to make cuts this year.
"I’m only supposed to have 85 students spread out from seventh through 12th-grade," she said. "Last year I was funded for 160 students. They wanted me to cut half of them loose, which was hard for me."
Regan said although she had to make the cuts, she will not turn away students who come to her needing assistance.
"I’ve been building up the program for five years now," she said. "At this point if students come and they want help, I will help them."
Students meeting the first generation, low income requirements sign contracts agreeing to show up to the monthly meetings and to attend college upon high school graduation.
Regan said the contract also asks the students to commit to a "rigorous course of study," which constitutes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, three years of science and one year of one foreign language.
"Obviously students who are already juniors and seniors enrolling in the program may not be able to meet this requirement before they graduate, but we will be encouraging all students to strive for it," Regan said.
During the fall, Regan starts working with seniors on building their resumes, filling out applications and applying for scholarships. The ETS class uses the utahfutures.org website to help students find a career path.
"We do some career-interest surveys where students can narrow down what they want to do and then the website links them to the college that has that program," Regan said. "Seniors have a checklist and I facilitate the students’ letters of recommendation," Regan said. "I also have the parents come in and we go over the FAFSA federal financial aid application."