My name is Matthew, and I’m an AmeriCorps member serving with the University of Washington Dream Project.
On Saturday, October 27, our program welcomed 236 high school seniors from 44 different schools to the UW campus for Admissions Workshop Weekend. At this all-day event, high school students received support in completing college applications, financial aid paperwork, scholarships, resumes, job applications, or any other projects that they wanted to complete. Many students came from high need schools with few resources available on their campuses to assist them in their post-secondary processes, so our event was effective in promoting equity in the greater Puget Sound area.
While I was responsible for a bulk of the event planning and spent the majority of the day in more of an oversight position, I had the opportunity to spend some service time with high school mentees in the middle of the day. In particular, I talked with a student named Sarah while she worked on completing her application to the University of Washington. She asked me to provide feedback on her personal statement. As part of the training I received at my site of service, I learned that the most effective way to support high school students in writing personal statements is to focus on the parts of their story and how they fit together, rather than focusing on grammar and spelling. Keeping this in mind, I was able to provide Sarah with suggestions about the progression of her personal statement that she appreciated. I then referred her to a writing tutor who was present at the event so she could get support with spelling and grammar.
By the end of the day, 91 percent of the high school students in attendance completed part or all of at least one college application. I feel honored and privileged to have planned and participated in such a successful event, and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to gain experiences like this one if I wasn’t serving as an AmeriCorps member.