Free College CounselingWritten by Robyn Wilson
Career and College Counseling:
Trained counselors are available during office hours or by appointment Monday through Thursdays. We specialize in helping people who are considering starting or completing college to find the best school and degree program for their specific needs. There is also a resource area outside of our office that has information about various schools, which is available even when the office is closed. Please make an appointment or stop by to discuss the opportunities waiting for you.
Pathways to College Program:
The University Centers of the San Miguel is the only locally supported, independent, rural higher education access program in the nation.
UCSM was created to fill the critical gap in educational and professional training for our residents and workforce that no public college is able to fill because of our low population numbers and remote and scattered rural communities. Our Pathways to College (PTC) program opens doors to post secondary education for youth who, because of socio-economic and cultural obstacles, do not have the resources and information needed to pursue a college education without professional advocacy and counseling. UCSM evolved from years of non-profit local community initiatives that address and build assets for rural community education and rural children and youth.
Federally funded Pathways type programs such as Gear–Up are active in minority and low income urban areas and in Native American schools, but few government dollars are spent on rural, primarily Caucasian, populations and yet the waste of youthful talent is just as rife in these communities as elsewhere. Wealthier schools can afford to hire college counselors in addition to guidance counselors. Our small under funded rural schools do not have that option. Pathways is a program designed to meet the need for professional college and career counseling for our teens from these communities and to help their parents understand the process by which their child might become the first in the family to obtain a college education. In this 2008/09 academic year, if funding allows, PTC plans to connect with every high school student from Norwood and Nucla high schools (approx 150) and follow-up on those who choose to participate in the PTC program.
Another important component is to help parents of students understand and complete the FAFSA application. This is a required document for another seeking financial aid in the form of loans, scholarships, and work study. All parents must complete this form every year until their son or daughter reaches the age of 23. It is not a difficult application, however it is only accepted electronically. We are happy to help parents who need assistance with this process.
The three most important needs of the youth served by UCSM:
a) Need for Information about higher education, why they should aim for a college degree in this global economy, and how they can access it even if they have socio-economic and cultural issues or other obstacles.
b) Need for mentorship and coaching in the process of planning their high school courses and extra curricular activities and summer options to build on their strengths and address their weaknesses so they can be better candidates for college admissions and scholarships.
c) Need for advocacy in obtaining their goals. A professional college counseling program goes the extra mile in advocating for their clients via direct contact and follow-up with internship and scholarship programs, college reps, written letters of recommendation, serious research into college and scholarship options for each individual case, contact with local alums, etc. This takes enormous staff time and often pays off spectacularly.