In October, Port St. Lucie High teamed with Indian River State College (IRSC) to host a College Application Day aimed at seniors interested in attending IRSC or a trade school.
Earlier in the fall semester, Monica Brooks, a school counselor at Port St. Lucie High, and Beth Amey, program director at IRSC’s Pruitt campus, had partnered to organize the high school’s inaugural College and Career Readiness Night for all grade levels.
“You can tell there was support across the board there,” Amey said of Port St. Lucie High hosting the College and Career Readiness Night. “They had access to the gym, which was great because there were so many people. All the counselors and teachers were there. You could really feel they wanted this to happen and for it to be successful.”
In addition to highlighting a variety of IRSC programs, the event’s information tables featured Port St. Lucie High’s career and technical education programs and military recruiters. There were also breakout sessions devoted to preparing for the FAFSA (presented by IRSC), dual enrollment, Naviance, and much more.
Brooks and Amey began planning Port St. Lucie High’s inaugural College and Career Readiness Night last summer after Brooks noticed a few of her students had “slipped through the cracks” in terms of college preparation and summer melt the previous school year.
The September event drew almost 400 students and parents, and its success inspired Treasure Coast High School to host its own College and Career Readiness Night in January.
That was followed by October’s College Application Day collaboration between Port St. Lucie High and IRSC. Although 89 students completed their IRSC applications that day, Brooks and Amey knew their work wasn’t done.
“I was a first-generation student, so I know firsthand that you don’t know what you don’t know at that age,” Brooks said. “Based on the questions we were getting, it didn’t take long before we said, ‘We’re going to have to do some sort of follow-up.’”
To address those questions, Brooks and Amey once again partnered to organize a follow-up “Ask IRSC” Day in November. The event was advertised to all seniors, who could set an appointment via Naviance or walk in during their lunch period. Staff met in small groups with students who had applied to IRSC to ensure all paperwork (financial aid, residency, orientation) and necessary steps were completed prior to their high school graduation.
“What would happen is we’d have all these (high school) seniors showing up on our campus on August 1 wanting to know what to do next and wanting to start school two weeks later,” Amey said.
The response to that first “Ask IRSC” Day was so positive, Brooks and Amey hosted another follow-up event in January and have scheduled additional monthly sessions through May.
Although Port St. Lucie High had hosted “Ask IRSC” sessions in prior years, this was the first time the two schools joined forces to follow-up with the new prospective IRSC students.
“I really think you need that momentum, particularly of having something happening every single month,” Amey said.
Brooks views her school’s College and Career Readiness Night, along with its College Application Day with IRSC and subsequent follow-ups, as essential for ensuring her students are successful.
“You always hear that it’s about meeting the kids where they’re at, and where they’re at a lot of the time right now is here in school,” Brooks said. “Helping them do things they’ve never done before through this process is not hand-holding, it’s teaching.”