Throughout the fall, thousands of graduating high school seniors at nearly 60 schools across Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties completed college applications as part of Tampa Bay College Application Week

College Application Week is part of College Ready Tampa Bay, a suite of programs sponsored by Extra Yard for Teachers and funded by Helios Education Foundation in partnership with the College Football Playoff Foundation, Tampa Bay Sports Commission and Florida College Access Network.  Launched as a philanthropic initiative to celebrate Tampa Bay’s hosting of the College Football Championship, the goal of College Ready Tampa Bay is to build and strengthen a college-going culture in schools throughout the tri-county region.

In addition to receiving technical support and promotional materials from Florida CAN, participating schools also received college banner kits from the College Football Playoff Foundation and up to $500 through to support their college application week and other activities that build a college-going culture.

College Application Week is part of a statewide effort called Apply Yourself Florida, which is coordinated by Florida CAN. Schools set aside time during the regular school day for seniors to fill out college applications with the help of trained volunteers. Over 145 schools throughout Florida held college application events during the fall semester. Many schools, such as East Bay High School in Gibsonton, FL, took this opportunity to offer seniors all-inclusive college application and financial aid support.

East Bay High School helped 500 students complete college applications 

East Bay High School held College Application Day as one of many events during a week dedicated to helping students prepare for college. Seniors congregated in the media center during their English period to receive assistance with completing their college applications. The event was a one-stop-shop for everything students would need to apply to and enroll in college successfully: Students received help acquiring waivers for the ACT and SAT, registering for college admissions tests, completing the FAFSA, polishing their resumes and college admissions essays, and of course, filling out college applications.

Several recruiters from colleges, technical schools, and the military were also present to help students explore their options for life after high school.

Toby Loukmas, School Counselor at East Bay High School, coordinated the event. “If we didn’t have an event like this we know there would be some students that we missed that didn’t fill out an application at home or that couldn’t or that didn’t know how,” Loukmas said in a video about the event produced by Tampa Bay Sports Commission. “It’s exciting for them to know that they just took the first step toward their future.”

As result of the day-long event, East Bay High School was able to help 180 of its graduating seniors complete and submit at least one college application. The rest of the week was dedicated to college-going culture activities for seniors and underclassmen alike. One day, for example, teachers and administrators celebrated “College FestiFall” by sporting t-shirts of their alma maters and sharing their college experiences with students.  On another day, 40 students from all grades attended a University of South Florida student panel presentation. The USF students spoke about their college experiences and what they wish they would have done in high school to better prepare themselves for the college experience.

Florida CAN congratulates seniors across Tampa Bay and throughout the state of Florida on completing their college applications this fall! We also congratulate the hundreds of schools and community partners that helped to make these events possible throughout Tampa Bay and the state of Florida.

To learn more about College Ready Florida, click here.  If your school or community is interested in participating in Apply Yourself Florida and holding an application week event in your school in fall 2017, register here.

Video courtesy of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission


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