Forsyth Central High School put an even higher focus on preparing students for the future this school year with the opening of their new College and Career Center.
Principal Dr. Josh Lowe said the space, located in the school’s media center, operates similarly to that of a College and Career Center on a college campus.
Counselors or other staff come to the center during the school’s power hour three days per week and before and after school to give students the chance to stop by and receive direct help with resumes, scholarship and college applications, job applications and much more.
“You name it, [the College and Career Center] is a learning spot to support that,” Lowe said.
The center focuses on students interested in a variety of outcomes after graduation, including those interested in college, a career pathway or the military.
Not only is the center a one-stop-shop for students with questions about their futures, but the counseling team at Central said they are dedicated to getting students information about college and their career whenever possible.
Throughout this school year, they have held workshops in the space for students and parents, letting them know about scholarships and opportunities they may not have come across otherwise.
“It’s a little bit of everything, so we meet all of our kids’ needs,” Counselor Jamie DiCarro said.
DiCarro also explained that the center is not just for seniors. They work to make sure they have programming and resources for all of the students that are age-appropriate.
“So getting our ninth graders to understand why their GPA is important, start doing career workshops with them to help them understand setting goals for themselves, searching for colleges when you’re a junior,” DiCarro said. “We really have things for all grade levels.”
Funded through the district, local donations and a grant from the Forsyth County Education Foundation, the College and Career Center has made it possible for leaders at Central to provide opportunities for students’ futures like never before.
One example of this was the school-wide celebration put together for Central’s inaugural Apply to College Day.
When students walked onto campus for their first class of the day earlier this month, they were greeted by a parade of cheerleaders and marching band members, playing music, dancing and hyping up the students for the day.
Many had no idea what the excitement was all about, but the seniors knew exactly what to expect.
Lead Counselor Allyson Carvell said many colleges and universities in Georgia waive their application fees in November thanks to a proclamation signed by former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016.
To take advantage of this, they planned Apply to College Day to give all their senior students a chance to apply to college with direct help from representatives with 14 different colleges and with teachers, counselors and other staff directly on campus during their school day.
“The goal is just really to remove all barriers from applying to college, so even our kids who are on the fence that maybe want to enter the workforce or go into the military, we’re encouraging them to just apply so they have a backup plan,” Carvell said.
Throughout the day, the media center was packed with students applying for colleges or sending their transcripts on Chromebooks or desktops provided by the school — and the counselors and staff were right there with them.
“I think when the kids see that the counselors are all there, the administration is there, there are English teachers helping with essays and applying — that’s a big deal that they see that we feel like it’s a big deal,” Assistant Principal Carrie MacAllaster said.
Many of the students even seemed excited to come and apply. When they first started the day, MacAllaster said she asked a group of boys which colleges they were going to apply to, and they just looked up at her and asked, “Well, it’s free, isn’t it?” When she said it was, they replied, “All of them.”
With that excitement and the involved team effort, Carvell said she hopes the application process for students was less daunting overall.
Central has a large population of first-generation students who will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. Carvell said, for them, the idea of even applying to college can be scary.
But applying with other groups of students gave some the confidence to take that leap.
By the end of their first Apply to College Day, more than 400 of Forsyth Central’s senior students had applied for college.
“It’s amazing what we can create when we all work together for a common goal,” MacAllaster said.