HCC College Readiness Program A Hit with High School Students

Some 250 Complete Program
Twelve Area High Schools Participate
Four More Set to Join

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- “It helped me prepare for what I’ll be experiencing when I get to college,” said Emily Hubbell, a junior at Bunnell High School in nearby Stratford. “My impression of college life is that it’s extremely busy but I’m eager to take on the challenge.”

“It was a very successful program as far as preparing us for college is concerned,” said Conrad DeJesus, a senior at Bullard Havens Technical High School in Bridgeport. “The workshops showed a lot that I need to know about college life.”

“The program was really good,” said Delaney Smith, a junior at Jonathan Law High School in nearby Milford. “I learned a lot of strategies to be successful in college.”

Hubbell, DeJesus and Smith are sharing their thoughts on the Housatonic Community College’s Bridges college readiness program, which offers area high school students a four-part orientation to college life. They were among some 250 students from 12 area high schools who completed the four-part program.
“The goal of the program is to better prepare students for college life,” said Director of Student Success Programs Joyce Gonzales. “Helping them with the transition from high school to college will, in turn, help  them remain in college through graduation and move on to the next phase in their lives, be it a job or moving on to a four-year school.”

The program has grown dramatically since it was started in 2007 with only Bridgeport’s Harding, Central and Bassick High Schools and Milford’s Platt Technical High School on board. Since then the number has jumped to 12 with Bridgeport’s Bunnell and Bullard Havens, Milford’s Jonathan Law and Foran High Schools, and Stratford, Derby, Ansonia and Shelton High Schools joining the program.

Next, year, the program will be available to even more high school students from the region. Four more high schools will be participating in the program, including Ansonia’s Emmett O’Brien Technical High School, Trumbull High School, Monroe’s Masuk High School and Fairfield Warde High School.
One, workshop, Orientation to College, reviews the differences between high school and college. “It covers such crucial issues as the benefits of a college education, and time management, including balancing work and leisure times,” Gonzales said. “It also reviews the actual costs of college – private, public and community college.”

Another, Placement Test Preparation, covers the types of placement tests required to enter college and who must take them. “The workshop encourages students to take math during their senior year,” Gonzales said. “It reviews math formulae and equations as well as the components of the five-paragraph essay.”

Taking the placement test was one facet of the program that impressed Smith. “I was able to take the placement test at my high school, which is something that not everyone gets the opportunity to do,” she said.

A third workshop, Career Planning, covers “the perfect job and the importance and impact of education in preparing for them” Gonzales said. “It covers higher education requirements for specific careers, as well as ‘hot careers’ that are in demand,” she said.

A fourth workshop, Financial Aid, covers the important topics of college costs, applying for financial aid, the definition of need, and types of financial aid available It also compares financial aid by institution and covered various types of scholarship scams.

This was the workshop that most impressed DeJesus and Smith.

“I learned how to apply for scholarships and fill out financial aid applications,” Smith said. “It was good experience, since I know I’ll be the one paying for college.”

DeJesus shares her sentiment. “I liked the workshop because it gives a realistic picture of how much college costs.”

All three students came away with much more than an insight into college life in general. They came away with insight into Housatonic as well. Hubbell and Smith added HCC to their list of possibilities because of this experience.

However, DeJesus is sold on HCC. “I plan to go to Housatonic,” he says, “because it’s cost-friendly … affordable!