■ Chronicle News Service
The main purpose of high school is to ensure students graduate prepared for either college or a career path. One way Hemet Unified School District (HUSD) gets students excited and thinking about their future is by participating in Riverside County Office of Education’s Race to Submit College Kickoff event.
This event encourages students throughout Riverside County to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to help pay for college. But that’s not all HUSD does. In order to get students excited for life after high school, staff members have introduced a variety of activities and events to ensure students are taking the necessary steps for a life of success.
Some people may hear “college or career opportunities” and believe that those topics are only for high school students, but HUSD believes these conversations should begin at the elementary level, said Public Information Officer Alex Sponheim. In fact, all HUSD elementary schools provided some type of event in October, such as presentations, dress-up days, peer interviews and even résumé building, to excite students about their futures.
Students in middle school were able to take their dreams of going to college or pursuing a career path into a more concrete plan. All seventh and eighth grade students were given the PSAT to become more familiar with the process when they take the SAT their senior year.
In addition to the PSATs, students set up their accounts for California College Guidance Initiative (CCGI), where they were able to explore different career fields that met their interests, colleges that would be a good fit based on their career interests, and what schooling would be required for them in order to pursue their dream job.
In addition to these activities, schools created other activities to excite students about the prospect of college, such as college wear Wednesdays, a school-wide Pep Rally College Scavenger Hunt, and the ability to meet with counselors to select high school courses that meet A-G requirements.
High school students were able to attend FAFSA workshops, college application workshops, college visit workshops, ASVAB informational workshops, listen to guest speakers, and participate in other various pep rallies and activities. Besides the workshops, students in grades 9-11 were able to take the PSAT, or the SAT for students in 12th grade, or the ASVAB at no charge.
“As a District, we have seen a significant increase in the amount of students taking the PSATs and SATs over the last few years,” said Sponheim. “Hemet Unified staff saw that a barrier for students to attend college was the inability to pay for the SAT. Since the District began paying for students to take the test, the number of students jumped from 268 students taking the SAT in the 2014-15 school year to 1,250 students taking it this school year.”
In addition, the number of students taking the PSATs jumped from 464 in 2014-15 to 4,495 students this school year, said Sponheim; however, this number does not include the seventh and eighth grade students who took it.
The District also hosted its 3rd annual College and Career Night, where more than 1,000 people were able to talk to representatives from universities, private colleges, California state universities, and various career fields. Students and their families were also able to attend three different workshops to learn how to setup a CCGI account, how students can meet entrance requirements for college, and how to afford college in a financial literacy class.