Applying for college is both an exciting and intimidating time for high school students. They’re filled with anticipation as they look forward to the next chapter of their lives, but the application process can be daunting, especially for first-generation students whose parents didn’t go through the same experience.
With this in mind, Orange County United Way’s United for Student Success℠ team collaborated with Garden Grove Unified School District to create a culturally competent and accessible workshop geared toward first-generation college students and their parents.
As a result, the Demystifying College Myths Parent Workshop was developed to actively break down some of the most common misconceptions surrounding higher education and help families learn how to best support their child on their academic path. The workshop was offered in hybrid form and provided Spanish and Vietnamese in-person and virtual interpretation for parents and students.
The workshop featured a presentation from a local counselor who debunked college myths, such as:
- “It’s hard to get into college” was debunked by sharing the holistic approach universities use (e.g. GPA, AP/Honors courses, SAT/ACT test scores, community service, etc.)
- “It’s hard to apply” was debunked by looking at dream, reach, and safety schools.
- “College is expensive” was debunked by examining the various financial aid options and resources available (e.g. work, work-study, FAFSA/CA Dream Act, scholarships, grants, etc.)
“All the points today were interesting, but one that impacted me the most was about the loans there are and the benefits they give you to continue studying. But, I also liked how they covered whether you can go to community college or university. With this information provided today, we feel really happy because we are going to pass this to our children. –Ulysses, Parent
Additional topics covered during the workshop included how to stay on track to meet higher education requirements and understanding the different paths first generation students can take to reach their academic goals. There was also a resource fair and several opportunity drawings provided by the United for Student Success team, which included a brand new HP laptop that was won by one of the parents in attendance.
This was the first workshop with the option to attend in person since 2020 and drew a total of 62 people in attendance (48 in-person and 12 virtual). A post-event survey found that, after experiencing the workshop, 97.5% of attendees felt knowledgeable or extremely knowledgeable about applying to college and 100% of attendees would recommend a similar event to a friend.
“I now feel very confident in how they can get to college. I feel more encouraged and know that they can achieve college based on all these tools that we learned today. –Ana, Parent
The Demystifying College Myths Parent Workshop is part of our Destination Graduation℠ College Level-Up Series, which aims to increase the high school graduation rate of students from high-needs districts. This programming is made possible by our United for Student Success initiative, which works to ensure Orange County students receive the support they need to stay on track in school, graduate on time, and are college- and career-ready.
A huge thank you to Garden Grove Unified School District for their partnership and support in putting together this informative workshop to help ensure our students succeed.