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The Camp College Experience

With the student and mentor application deadlines fast approaching (EXTENDED TO APRIL 15!!), Camp College 2017 will be here soon. An initiative of the Inclusion, Access and Success committee, Camp College is a college preparation program targeted to prepare a diverse group of students from across the state of Texas for college. By working directly with students and developing the professional experiences of the program’s mentors, Camp College speaks directly to the mission of TACAC.

Held on college campuses throughout Texas, Camp College is a 3-day residential program that welcomes approximately 120 students for college application readiness education. The program's 40 mentors will guide students through the program. Last year’s Camp College was graciously hosted by the University of Texas at Arlington and 2017’s event will take place June 5-7 at Southern Methodist University.

Applying to be a mentor is a great way to grow as a professional. “I applied to be a part of the Camp College team because I have a true passion for encouraging more high school students to pursue a higher education,” says Jalon Berry of Sam Houston State University, who served as a mentor in 2016. Mentors work with students in large group, small group, and individual settings to guide the campers in their college application plans.

Chelsea Beard from San Jacinto College, reflected, “Applying for colleges can sometimes be an endless maze of confusion, frustration and stress for students. As a senior myself I was constantly lost in the process and being first generation I didn’t have anyone to turn to. I loved the idea of being able to help students through their maze and to alleviate some of the stress of going to college.”

Mentors come from a wide range of backgrounds, such as public and private universities, public and private high schools, and community-based organizations or independent counseling. This diversity of professional knowledge enhances the experience for mentors. “What was most surprising for me was how much I would learn from the event! I definitely walked away a better admissions counselor, with a better ability to connect the students I work with to tons of tools and resources that are available to them, as well as better equipped to answer their questions during their college search,” says April Marroquin of Lamar University.

The students from Camp College come from across Texas. Most of them learn about Camp College from school counselors or other educators familiar with the program. “One of the reasons I applied, was because my College Community Center  mentor told me to take a chance and see where it could lead me. So when I was first applying I had no idea that there was going to be a trip and that I was going to have an amazing experience with new people,” said  Sidney Reyes, a 2016 camper.

During the three days of Camp College, students attend programs and work in groups to learn about all aspects of the admission process and college life. Hailey Revell said, “During the program, I greatly enjoyed the seminars we had as groups but also when we were given the opportunity to make friends and learn from the college admissions officers. The information they gave me proved invaluable in choosing a college and career path.” Students work closely with their mentors during the process. As Jazmine Avila shared, “I really enjoyed the mentorship that we received from our group leaders. They had a genuine interest in our college planning. They gave us so much great advice.”

The lessons from Camp College last throughout a student’s senior year. Nancy Vu, a 2016 camper, is currently drawing on her camp experience as she navigates her college choice “Camp College was my first experience away from home and it was a great and enriching experience. I learned a lot about the process of college admissions and the importance of choosing a college for me. I am currently debating between two universities. I am doing intense research on both universities because I really want to make the best decision for my undergraduate career. There are a lot of factors to consider, like Camp College taught me.”

Make no mistake: Camp College is also fun! In the words of Abigail Gonzalez, “Meeting new people, not from around my area but around all of Texas, was a wonderful experience. Don't forget about the food, that was one of my favorites. And it was FREE! I mean really, who can top that! Once again thank you guys all at TACAC Camp for the wonderful experience.”

College admission professionals are encouraged to apply to be a mentor and to share this experience with a high school junior who might benefit from attending Camp College. We hope to see you in June at SMU!

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