The Blade, Ohio — Just one week after the news of a lifetime, Scott High School seniors are rapidly preparing for the next chapter of their education and getting some help from the school district and local colleges.
In late January, Toledo native and Chicago resident Pete Kadens announced he would pay for 4 and a half years’ worth of tuition and fees to any in-state public institution, as well as Lourdes University and Eastern Michigan University. The donation is also applicable to any in-state trade and apprenticeship program. Mr. Kadens announced he would support one student’s parent or guardian as well. He is funding the opportunity through his philanthropic organization Helping Our Population Educate, or HOPE Toledo.
Scott senior Ma’Nysha Burton,17, said college was not on her radar prior to Mr. Kadens’ announcement. She is not alone in her sentiment, as the opportunity has come as a surprise to several seniors and their families.
Miss Burton said since the news, she feels like she’s starting from scratch as she’s working hard to improve her grade point average.
“I was only aiming to graduate from high school. I wasn’t planning on going to college. I was aiming for a D because that’s a passing grade, a C at most. Now I’m trying to fix everything just so I can get accepted to the colleges I want to go to,” she said.
With disbelief in the opportunity’s legitimacy, Miss Burton credits her 2-year-old daughter for her newfound motivation.
“I chose to believe it because of my little girl. If she sees me taking it further to college instead of just high school she’s going to do the same and I can make more money for both of us,” she said.
Miss Burton hopes to study music and cosmetology at either Bowling Green State University or the University of Toledo.
Scott’s school counselor Michael Mercurio said Miss Burton is not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the recent news.
“There’s some fear for a lot of the students because now they have all these options and are questioning what to do with them or how fast do things need to be done,” he said.
Mr. Mercurio said Scott’s faculty and staff are working hard to ensure seniors are supported throughout the process. Among a list of many resources, Mr. Mercurio said the school is hosting workshops for parents and students to fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid, one of HOPE Toledo’s requirements for funding.
An upcoming session is scheduled for Thursday during the school’s lunch period. He added that personnel from BGSU’s Financial Aid Office will also be present to assist with any questions during the sessions.
Beyond the FASFA sessions, the high school has partnered with UT to host a recruitment day Wednesday from 12:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Scott High School for students and parents.
Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion and vice provost at UT, said the event known as Rocket Day will be a one-stop-shop allowing students and parents to receive admittance on-site — pending completion of requirements — as well as resolving any questions regarding college life.
“We just want to make sure that we provide a wide array of our service departments to these high school students so they can have an introduction to everybody on campus,” he said, further noting that representatives from the university’s admissions, financial aid, residence life, and varying offices will be in attendance.
The university has a current GPA requirement of 2.75. However, Mr. McKether said it’s important to not limit students to their GPAs or test scores.
“We have to be careful about how we think about their test scores or current GPA. I want to make sure that we’re looking at those scores holistically and recognizing that there are some students out there who are extremely bright but up to this point didn’t think about college as being an option,” he said.
Lauryn Vargas, assistant director of multicultural admission at UT, said students may offset low test scores or GPAs with letters of recommendation and personal statements.
Ms. Vargas said the planned recruitment event is a step towards building trust with prospective students and families.
“We hope that this day is a time where we can slow the process down for them and just say ‘take a breath, we’re here to help you.’ I know a lot of times people think with the admissions office we just want to get students here but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Retention is so important, to get them through their first year and get them through the four and half years that the time frame allows,” she said.
In addition to Rocket Day, the university will waive admission and housing application fees for all Scott seniors.
Mr. Mercurio said the high school is planning an after-school college fair, in which he hopes that varying in-state colleges, universities, and trade programs will attend. Details for the event are forthcoming.
LEARN MORE: www.Hope-Toledo.org
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