College Application Week off and running in Manistee County schools

Seniors throughout the county like the ones at Manistee Catholic Central have been applying to colleges this week as part of College Application Week. The program which began last year with Launch Manistee has  been a huge success as last year 96 percent of the graduating seniors applied to a college.

Seniors throughout the county like the ones at Manistee Catholic Central have been applying to colleges this week as part of College Application Week. The program which began last year with Launch Manistee has been a huge success as last year 96 percent of the graduating seniors applied to a college.

MANISTEE — One year can make a big difference.

Last year when Launch Manistee inaugurated the College Application Week process in Manistee County most students, parents and school officials were not familiar with it. However, after seeing 96 percent of the seniors in the county apply to a college during that week, it turned many people into believers.

This week seniors at Bear Lake, Brethren, CASMAN Academy, Manistee Catholic Central, Manistee High School, Onekama High School and Northwest Michigan Works will be marking the occasion with a series of programs to encourage seniors to fill out a college application.

Launch Manistee program director Mary Ann Behm said area schools have really picked up the ball and run with it this year.

“They know what it is about, and they are excited,” said Behm. “Many of them are doing some really cool things as Monday morning I was at Manistee Catholic Central and they have lots of things going on all week.”

Manistee Catholic Central Dean of Students Ed Kolanowski said they decided to get the whole school and staff into the picture this year.

“This morning for two periods the kids had access to the computer lab to apply,” said Kolanowski. “A number of colleges have fee waivers this week. All the kids were pretty engaged, and all of them applied to at least one college. Some had already applied, but for others this was the first time and that is the good piece of this thing.”

Kolanowski said that the National Honor Society is going to do a survey for all the high school students that is college related. The kids that complete the survey are put in a drawing to  qualify for a prize of some kind of college paraphernalia.

He added that even the teachers have taken a role in it.

“The teachers also have a competition of ‘opening the door to college’ where they decorate the door of their classroom with information on the university or college they attended,” said Kolanowski. “The kids will vote on which door they like the most.”

Kolanowski said West Shore Community College’s financial adviser came in to talk to the kids about WSCC scholarships, and other financial aid in general.

“We also scheduled Laura Heintzelman from the Manistee County Community Foundation to talk about the scholarships they have to offer as well,” he said. “So between applying for college, getting some information on scholarships and other things, it has just been fun. Like anything else, it grows with time. This year we are trying to get a little more teacher buy-in to to it.”

He said they have made it a school wide program as there are college banners in the cafeteria and elementary and high school students are wearing college T-shirts this week at various times.

“It keeps it in the mind of all kids on what college is all about,” he said.

Behm said that the key is to reach out to students who might not normally think about attending college.

“Post secondary achievement is key to the success of our students and the competitiveness of the county,” she said. “We are making the sometimes complex process of applying for college as simple and affordable as it will ever be.”

Denis Mayowski, who has been working with Brethren and Manistee high schools through a new grant assisted program Advise MI, has played a big role in helping students prepare for this week.

“I think a lot of the kids are happy to have some time set out of the school day to work on their application and to actually have someone there to help them,” he said. “I think that has  been a big key as for some of them they hit something don’t know what to do and by the looks on their faces they would have given up.”

Mayowski said that both Brethren and Manistee high schools have other special events planned during the week.

“I passed out some things on where they can find out information,” he said. “There is a scavenger hunt that is more informational then getting up and actually looking for things about what they are going to need to know as college freshmen.”

Even Michigan Works! will be conducting a college application event from 3-6 p.m. on Thursday at the Michigan Work’s Learning Lab. Michigan Works! Cheryl Wolfram said she hopes many will take advantage of the program that is open to everyone.

“We especially desire to help the non-traditional graduates, such as those with a GED, and students who might otherwise not apply to college,” she said. “We also are looking at those who are the first in their family to apply.”

Another part of the week will be the screening at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Vogue Theatre of the award winning documentary “First Generation.”

“The movie is about four high school students who set out to break the cycle of poverty and bring hope to their families and community through a college education,” said Behm. “The film tracks the experiences of an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer and the daughter of migrant workers.”

The film will be followed by a panel discussion of Manistee area educators, counselors and students.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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