La Serna expands college and career center

WHITTIER – La Serna High School’s College and Career Center has never been busier. Since the expansion of the center’s hours and arrival of a full-time college advisement specialist, a constant stream of students have been filing in during and after school to ask questions, find support and get assistance.

This fall, the bustling center, nicknamed the College Corner, opened full time and more than doubled the number of students who visit the hub to talk college, academics and the admissions process.

The school is also hosting its first-ever Kaplan SAT/ACT combination test from 8 to noon on Saturday, Feb. 21. Pre-registration is required.

“They’re eager to get started on the next step of their careers,” College Adviser Sandra Ochoa said. “If they have doubts, they have someone to come to for that guidance.”

Natalia Valles, a senior who plans to study neurology at Stanford University, visits the center often.

“This center has helped me immensely, especially because as an only-child, I don’t have anyone else to ask for college advice, and parents are not always experts like Ms. Ochoa,” Valles said.

Much of the program’s growth is due to the District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a spending plan that prioritizes academic support services among other programs to significantly assist students.

“With the LCAP, we have been able to open up access to resources and opportunities that weren’t readily available in the past,” Principal Ann Fitzgerald said. “We’ve increased the number of college field trips and application workshops for both juniors and seniors. Students who wouldn’t have looked at college before are now exploring their options.”

La Serna also boosted the number of college information sessions and financial aid workshops. The additional resources have been valuable to students and parents alike, said Yvonne Torres-Hess, director of La Serna’s Horizons academic support program.

“We don’t want the center to be the best kept secret on campus,” Torres-Hess said. “Parents and students have a lot of questions, and the College Corner is the place to ask. It’s exciting to see so many students utilizing these services.”

La Serna is also strengthening its college readiness program through partnerships with Rio Hondo and Fullerton colleges.

Rio Hondo offers college and application workshops, a senior preview day and a Counseling 105 class, which is part of the orientation and enrollment process. Students can get priority registration, placement and assessment before they graduate high school. A representative is also on campus weekly.

Fullerton College is also exposing La Serna freshmen to its campus and career assessments through field trips. The college also hosts college education seminars for parents.

“The collaboration between these community colleges and the high school is a perfect storm of improvement and they want us and our kids,” Fitzgerald said.

 

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Published: Feb. 12, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 44