High school students are given guidance on the road to college Speaker advises reading, preplanning course work

November 20, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

About 70 parents and students at Francis Scott Key High School were told last night they need to start early to get ready for college.

Students entering the ninth grade should look ahead and plan their course work for the next four years, said Audrey T. Hill, president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

"If you don't have the proper course work, you will have a difficult time getting into college," said Hill, who was the keynote speaker at an inaugural seminar designed to make college attractive to students from a variety of ethnic, racial and economic backgrounds.

Parents need to meet with school guidance counselors individually at least once early in high school to discuss their children's future, Hill said, underscoring advice from Francis Scott Key Principal A. George Phillips.

Phillips advised parents not be afraid to take part in their children's decision making. "It is vital for you to be here," he told parents. "Don't give up your right to help with that decision."

Hill offered different tips to students, depending on their grade level. But she encouraged all to become avid readers.

"Read on a regular basis," she said. "Read whatever you want -- but read."

She also encouraged ninth- and 10th-graders to take the national PSAT test each year. "Take it for practice," she said. "It only counts in the 11th grade."

PSAT results determine which students become eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program.

Hill said she would like to see "more students of color qualify" for the scholarship program, and that they would improve those chances of that by taking the tests early and often.

Too many high school seniors lament that they did not work harder as ninth-graders, she said. "I encourage you ninth-graders to come into high school burning fire," she said.

Hill advised students to choose an extracurricular activity and "become involved" in the school. "Be consistent" in what you do, she said. "Become a leader in that organization. Hold an office."

Hill recommended that 10th-graders consider enrolling at a summer college program.

"Don't be afraid of the costs," she told parents, adding that scholarships are available. "Let the experience of being away from home matter."

The message Hill had for juniors and seniors was for them to know what colleges are looking for -- especially in grade point averages and test scores.

"Know what the college is looking for and know what you are looking for," she said. "Know your strengths and weaknesses, your hopes and your dreams. And consult with the people who can help you realize them. There are ways to pay for college if you want to go."

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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