Fort Worth

Advisers helping more first-generation students apply for college

Being a high school senior is as easy as pie, right? Fill out college applications, look for scholarships, apply for financial aid.

Maybe it’s not so easy, but at Haltom High School, there is pie involved. College adviser Adriene Salgado will help with essays, but she also came up with “No Pie ’Til You Apply” during college application season.

Getting more seniors to apply for college before Thanksgiving was the goal. Salgado said many colleges have deadlines in early December so it was important to apply early. Students planning to apply at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M have a hard deadline of Dec. 1.

Once the application season winds down, Salgado begins helping Haltom seniors apply for federal and state finanical aid, which should be done early in the new year. She also helps seniors search for scholarships while assisting juniors with college entrance exams.

Salgado is advising at Haltom High through the TCU College Advising Corps, a program that puts college advisers like her in 24 area high schools in districts including Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving, Lake Worth, White Settlement and Ector County.

“She shows up every single day to Haltom High School,” said Matt Burckhalter, director of the TCU program.

The program, housed at the TCU College of Education’s Center for Public Education and funded with a federal grant, embeds recent graduates in underserved high schools to provide advice and encouragement.

The movement to get more students to apply for college got a push this month through a collaboration between high schools and Generation Texas, a program supported by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that provides resources and support for finding and staying on a path to college or career education.

During the GenTX Applic ation Campaign, students at participating Texas high schools received help during the schoolday completing applications. This year’s campaign, resulted in 3,446 students completing 8,731 applications at 91 participating high schools, according to the coordinating board.

A scary process

Applying to college can be unnerving, Salgado said, especially for students who are trying to be the first in their families to attend college.

This fall, Karina Alvarado, 17, applied to the University of North Texas and the University of Texas at Arlington after meeting with Salgado. If she attends, college, she would be the first in her family, she said.

“I did not know how to,” Alvarado said. “It was a lot of questions asked at once. She helped us get through it. She showed us it is not as difficult as we make it seem.”

In October, Luz Delgado, 17, applied to UNT. She felt unsure about the process until she attended Salgado’s October application drive. Delgado and her older brother are the first in their families to attend college.

“I went because I didn’t know how to apply to UNT,” Delgado said. “She helped me. Any questions I had, she answered.”

Delgado returned Nov. 19 for more help. She finished an application to UTA and started one to TCU. She also had two pieces of pie —chocolate and cherry.

“I thought it was going to be real hard, but with her help it is becoming easier,” Delgado said.

This fall semester, Burckhalter’s advisers have met with 5,121 high school seniors. Earlier this month, 1,737 applications had been submitted to colleges with the TCU program’s help. Advisers have helped 3,517 seniors register for entrance exams.

The local effort builds on the College Application Campaign, an initiative that aims for an increase in completed applications nationwide, including those from first-generation and low-income students who might not otherwise apply.

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