With the new school year underway, seniors are not wasting any time preparing for life after West Philly High School. There has been a whirlwind of activity in the Promise Corps room since the very start. For the most part, students having been stressing out about their senior projects. In their eyes, this is the only thing standing between them and graduation. We have been striving to help students recognize the importance of taking the necessary steps to prepare for college. It has been a struggle getting them to multitask, while also trying not to overwhelm them.
One of our primary focuses has been on getting students to complete their FAFSA, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Many of our students did not know about the FAFSA, realize its importance or understand what information they needed in order to complete it. When we noticed this lack of exposure, we made it our mission to get the word out to the students. In order to reach seniors, we prepared in-class presentations, chased after students down the halls, brought laptops to the cafeteria, begged them stay for a few minutes after school, and did our best to make sure everyone stayed informed. Luckily, the mention of free money for college was all it took to give many students the motivation they needed.
For students who were still dragging their feet, we had to rethink our strategy. So we decided to have a FAFSA completion competition. Using a donation from a local coffee shop, we promised baked goods to the first fifteen students who showed us confirmation. Surprisingly, this was just the push that some of our students needed. In some cases, it seemed like the treat was the real prize, and the thousands of potential dollars for college was just a bonus.
Additionally, Promise Corps members from all four school sites came together on October 3 at the Philadelphia School District Office to assist with a FAFSA completion night. Hundreds of students showed up with their parents, grandparents, and siblings to get help with their FAFSA applications. We are so proud of the students who have already completed their FAFSA, and look forward to helping the rest of them get it finished.