PLHS college-prep program gearing up to reach more students
by Scott Hopkins
Published - 07/25/12 - 03:24 PM | 3467 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A highly successful college preparation program will be offering help to a limited number of students at Point Loma High School in the next school year.

Reality Changers, a program aimed at providing assistance in many forms to first-generation college applicants from low-income or dysfunctional families will be expanding its scope of coverage in a new program known as the College Apps Academy (CAA).

The new program will open the Reality Changers umbrella to include all students, however the new service will not be free.

And this new option for students and families comes at a good time.

PLHS Principal Bobbie Samilson warned in a recent letter to school families that her school’s counseling staff will shrink next year because of budget cuts, meaning less one-on-one time will be available for assistance with college planning.

For many years, the PLHS counseling department has urged students to become familiar with Naviance, an online service that helps students and parents in the often-confusing and difficult college application process. Naviance also charges fees for its services and PLHS counselors will continue to hold meetings in the fall for all interested students and parents using information provided by Naviance.

The new CAA program, however, will be limited to 20 students at PLHS and carries a price tag of $1,999. For this fee, students will receive the intense and successful assistance Reality Changers has developed since its inception a decade ago.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described the program as “a model for the country,” with a relatively small number of students earning more than $15 million in scholarships to many prestigious universities.

A recent Peninsula Beacon story described the Reality Changers experience of four current PLHS seniors from widely differing backgrounds. These students have selected Columbia University, University of Chicago, Point Loma Nazarene University and San Diego State University, while a fifth PLHS senior in the program will attend UCLA.

In their “graduation” at University of San Diego earlier this month, each student received a sweatshirt from the university they will attend. Some impressive scholarship amounts were flashed on screens, including one student whose scholarship value was estimated at $541,000 to attend Villanova University. 

The new CAA’s mission is “to achieve each student’s (and parent’s) goal of gaining acceptance to a college where he or she can enjoy both academic success and a rich campus experience. Also to increase the student’s (and parent’s) well-deserved enjoyment of senior year, as well as reduce the family stress of the college application process by infusing structure, establishing priorities and providing timely reporting.”

On the CAA website, a six-step process is described that will be used to obtain successful admission into a college of each client’s choice. It is estimated students will spend anywhere from 50 to 250 hours completing college applications, writing and rewriting essays, filling out supplemental paperwork and complex financial forms.

Every step of process will be managed by CAA staff.

For more information, visit, or call (619) 516-2229.

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July 27, 2012
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