Dozens of Central Texas area high school students and their parents learned what it takes to grab higher education by the horns after attending the fall Ready, Set, Go! College Readiness Workshop hosted annually by the Senate of College Councils, a UT student legislative organization.
Selected by their high school counselors, ninth and 10th-grade students from Bowie, Austin, Lanier, McCallum, Westwood, Eastside Memorial and Crockett high schools were invited to the Forty Acres to familiarize themselves with the college application process, living conditions on and off campus, classes that should be taken in high school to best prepare for college courses, study tips and insight on campus life.
"Through the Ready, Set, Go! workshop, students and parents get a jump start on the college application process and are able to hear from students, faculty and staff members and administrators on the necessary steps to get in to and be successful in post-secondary education," said Mark Jones, co-chair of the senate's Recruitment and Retention Committee and co-organizer of Ready, Set, Go!.
In addition to attending information sessions, led by senate members, regarding admission to college and financial aid, students also received tips on successful study habits and time management.
"Ready, Set, Go! provides a student's perspective on what it means to be college ready. It offers insight on the steps a student should be taking in high school to be prepared for college," said Christine Thorne-Thomsen, co-chair of the Recruitment and Retention Committee and co-organizer of Ready, Set, Go! "The vision behind the program is to help inform local students on how to prepare in high school to be successful in college."
While parents heard from keynote speaker Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, the senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, the high school students got the opportunity to attend a mock lecture from Associate Professor Dr. Elizabeth Richmond-Garza of the College of Liberal Arts.
Additional presentations were made regarding the university's Sanger Learning and Career Center and each student was given a binder with essential information for success in college.
"I am very happy that I choose to participate in this opportunity," one student wrote in their post-workshop evaluation. "I had some fun and gained more friends and my family heads (members of Senate who lead individual groups of students) opened my eyes to what I had to do to get into college."
Parents also heard from a panel of students, parents of current UT students and representatives from the university's Division of Housing and Food Service and The University of Texas at Austin Police Department.
Many of the parents who attended wrote in their post-workshop evaluations that they were thankful for the opportunity "to get started early and become aware of deadlines, requirements and overall admission expectations." One set of parents wrote, "We gained a much greater base of knowledge on all of the topics discussed. We feel like we have more 'tools' in our college toolbox now."
"I hope that students took away from the event the specific steps they can be taking even as a freshman or sophomore to ensure their success in not only high school but also college. I hope parents learned how they can help their student achieve their goals, and how they can start helping with the transition and the application," Thorne-Thomsen said. "I want every participant to leave the workshop with full confidence that they can attend college, and more importantly how they can go about making that goal come true."
Senate will host another Ready, Set, Go! workshop in the spring semester for 11th grade students only.