Merident students give college application program high marks

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MERIDEN — A weeklong summer program that began in 2019 with the goal of helping the city’s high school seniors kickstart their college applications has gotten high marks from students who participated in it.

Lauren Powers, college and career coordinator at Maloney High School, told the Board of Education Tuesday night the goal of that five-day program, called the College Prep Academy, is to have students who participate in it tackle an ambitious list of milestones, including creating a list of colleges they will apply to, applications and college essays. 

Powers said students also worked with a writing coach, began the process of requesting letters of recommendation, and learned about applying for financial aid. 

The program has grown since it was introduced at Maloney and Platt High School in 2019. Powers said in the first year, Maloney had 41 students participate. This summer, 55 students attended. 

Maloney senior Caroline Reardon was one of those students. Reardon told the school board she appreciated having time set aside to work on the college application process. 

During the course of the school year, completing such tasks would have been more difficult, because students would need to find time between homework, after school jobs and other commitments, Reardon said. 

“So it was great to have that time set aside during the summer,” Reardon said. “It’s also nice having your peers around you, going through the exact same thing.”  

More than half of high school seniors at Platt and Maloney opt to continue their education after high school.

According to annual data on college entry reported by the State Department of Education, close to 63% of students who graduated from Maloney in 2019 — the most recent year available — enrolled in a two or four-year school. 

Nearly 54% of students who graduated from Platt that same year similarly attended postsecondary programs.  

Statewide, the percentage of Connecticut’s public high seniors who enrolled in college in 2019 was 71.5%.

Jennifer Straub, Maloney’s principal, conveyed the importance of having time dedicated to provide students a head start on their college applications. It allows students greater peace of mind in September and October, with deadlines to submit college applications fast approaching in subsequent months, Straub told the board.

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