College Knowledge Preps Families for Children's Success

La Monica Everett-Haynes
Feb. 25, 2013

Have you heard of the Sweet 16?

Not the similarly named reality television show. Not the penultimate birthday year. And not the NCAA tournament.

It's what those within the UA's Office of Early Academic Outreach call the keys to college in Arizona: four years of math, four years of English, three years in lab sciences, two years each of social sciences and a foreign language and one year of fine arts coursework.

Too many parents and families are not aware of such requirements, or how to ensure that their college-bound teenagers take care of them. And that is where the UA's College Knowledge for Parents steps in.

Organized and facilitated by the UA's Office of Early Academic Outreach, the program trains families on how to best support and advocate on behalf of their college-bound children.

Nearly 330 people participated in the recently held event, with a total of 129 families. Among those in attendance were 119 students who are currently in the 8th grade. All told, 35 schools from five Tucson-area school districts were represented.

We asked parents and families to share their experience preparing their children for college, and also what benefit they see in participating in the UA program. The respondents are Julie l. Cahoon, a coach for the Success for All Foundation, whose daughter is bound for college; Javier and Janette Dominguez, whose son is preparing for college; and parent Veronica Soto, whose son is gearing up for college.

Q: What is important to you when thinking about how to support your child's future success?

Cahoon: I want to make sure that I support my children in getting the prerequisite skills and knowledge needed to enter a university. Time flies by so quickly; I just want to make sure that I do not miss an opportunity to set them up for success. The greatest support I can give my kids is to open up the doors for them to explore the opportunities. The information and opportunities will be used to help them make informed choices during high school.

Soto: I have always discussed college with my son since he started school. College has become an expectation, just as graduating from high school is. I also made sure that he saw that college was important to me, and I went back and completed my degree. I also stay very active in his school by volunteering and participating in the Parent Teacher Organization and compliment him when he does well. For example, I make sure to show up for Honor Roll assemblies and check his grades on a regular basis.

Q: How has College Knowledge for Parents been useful to you and your family?

Cahoon: My daughter was actually the one to RSVP and sign us up. This showed me that she was taking the initiative in preparing for college. This, in itself, spoke volumes to me as a parent. Imagine my surprise when she informed me that we were signed up for College Knowledge for Parents and that we needed to register at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday. College Knowledge for Parents opened my eyes to the costs and requirements needed for entrance to college in Arizona. It was an enjoyable time for me to discuss the future with my daughter. We talked about the “Sweet 16” classes that will be the core of her high school academics. Just taking the district requirements would not have been enough. I didn’t realize that.

The Dominguez family: Sadly, we are just now starting to prepare our student for college.  If it weren't for the UA invitation for College Knowledge, we wouldn't have known where to begin. It has been an eye opener for sure. We were not aware of the prerequisites, nor were we aware of the opportunities for grants and scholarships.

Soto: I think this event was good to help us start thinking about what we need to do to prepare for college. There wasn't really anything like his when I was in high school, and I was really left to try and figure it out on my own. Our only saving grace was that my uncle worked for Pima Community College and could help with the process.

Q: What information have you learned that will be most helpful for your student?

Cahoon: I will make sure that my kids make appointments with the school counselor during the first quarter of high school and make regular appointments throughout the year. I didn’t realize how much this can help prepare students. I will also try to schedule the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) during their freshman and sophomore years for practice – this was another “good-to know” piece of information. We have begun to talk about foreign language options and the importance of their community involvement. I will help my kids to start documenting grades, leadership roles, sports and community service in the handy file provided.

Soto: I don't know if I can identify one specific thing, but I just like the fact that the University of Arizona is the one telling the students it is possible to get to college and trying to find ways to support that. You always hear about the expense of college and it sometimes makes it seem like only the wealthy can attend college but to get this message so early on that you need to do well in school is a great message.

Q: What is important for others to remember?

Cahoon: The biggest change is that I am informed and know that waiting until my kids are juniors to prepare for college will be too late. I need to establish a timeline for supporting them in becoming more independent and self-sufficient.

For more college preparation information, visit StartNow!

Photos by: Mandy Cheromiah

Contact: Mandy Cheromiah, program coordinator for the UA's Office of Early Academic Outreach, 520-626-2300 or acheromi@email.arizona.edu.

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