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College Week for First Generation Students

Financial aid, scholarships and essays – the college admissions process can be daunting and confusing, especially for students whose parents or older siblings never attended college. To assist students who may be the first in their families to attend college, Victor J. Andrew High School hosted a week-long program to raise awareness and celebrate students and staff for being pioneers and paving the way to higher education and a brighter future for their families.

1st Generation Week, November 6-10, included an on-site admission session for senior Trailblazers with Eastern Illinois University, college representative visits from several universities, a lunchtime mixer for all first-generation staff and students, as well as a first-generation college panel and presentation.

At the College Panel and Presentation, representatives from Governors State University, Valparaiso University, University of Illinois-Springfield and Xavier University discussed their special programs and support networks in place for first-generation students. They also gave advice for T-bolts thinking about pursuing college. 

Julie Nelson from Xavier University suggested that students set up an email just for college admissions communications. Valparaiso University admissions representative Colleen Couch encouraged students to take advantage of the resources they have in high school and to get to know their counselor.  

Similarly, Aaron Boettcher at U of I - Springfield advised students that grades matter, reassured students that they don’t have to take all Advanced Placement classes, but good grades are important, regardless of the level of the course. Finally, Governors State University admissions representative Noelle Larsen told students not to be afraid to ask for help and to call admissions offices with questions.