Reflections on College Admissions

  • High School
Mary Moser

At this year’s #WATeachLead EdCamp, I took the opportunity to join Puget Sound College & Career Network for a showing and discussion of the film Personal Statement.  The film follows three seniors who are navigating the college admission process while also mentoring other seniors through the process. 

Viewing the senior year through these different teenagers’ eyes helped re-center me in considering how different my experience was as compared to the students who walk the hallways of my school.  As an AVID Coordinator, I have been wondering about how to bring the college admission process into a collective responsibility.  At times, it can feel like one more thing.

I realized after reflecting on my EdCamp notes that things like this movie, a narrative article, a young adult novel may be the best options for broadening the buy-in for staff to want to know more.  Just as curiosity helps our students engage, curiosity will help our staff connect with the work.

Two years ago, 100% of our AVID seniors had chosen a college and intended to enroll as of June.  According to my recent AVID report for that year, 25% enrolled in their first year of college.  Granted, there are some caveats in that a student has to share the information with National Clearing House.  That’s a drop.  And, it’s not a new phenomenon.

It’s not A or B

It’s easier to see the world as a clear choice.  You can choose path A. Or, you can choose path B.  Clear. Cut, Dry.  Too often, we want to see the world as A or B because it makes it easier to draw a conclusion, which very often is a judgment.   

Sometimes, a conclusion that lets us off the hook.  Looking back at my reading of Ibi Zoboi’s Pride, a recent young adult remix of Pride and Prejudice, I realize that there was a lot of discussion about college admissions, HBCUs, and what it means to leave her home and parents for school.  It was a world that I hadn’t thought about that much.  What if going to college makes you feel like you’re abandoning your family?  What if your family, themselves, send those signals?

I’ve found myself trying to practice not jumping to an easy picture of situations.  To do this, I have to begin searching for different outlets like young adult literature to build understanding.

Be a Navigator

Part of what was unique in Personal Statement was that the movie followed three students who were part of a mentoring program for other students applying to college.  There is one scene where a young gentleman is coaching another student who missed an admission deadline.  He encourages her to call the admissions office, practice what she will say, and sticks by her until she dials the number.  His encouragement actually spurs him to call his own college worry to find out what is missing in his work.  Turns out that he required financial paperwork from his mom, who is homeless and doesn’t live with him.  It’s hard to watch him navigate the government system with his mom while also navigating his relationship with his mom.

How often do these outside forces impact our students’ ability to be present in the room?  I am left wondering what are the possible steps that we as educators, we as a school, we as part of the educational system can take to help our young students navigate life and help families navigate life. 

What Happens After

I wrote about college persistence before on this site.  We focus a lot of energy on getting students to the final line of graduating high school.  And, well we should.  For some of us, it’s a monumental undertaking.  But, I worry, now about what happens next.  In AVID, we collect data about our student plans as they leave our halls. But, like I said before, of my 100% AVID seniors stating they would be going to college in September, only 25% enrolled in college.  I know one student that I saw at a local restaurant, working, and as it turns out, they had turned down a full ride scholarship to a local community college.  Well, they hadn’t necessarily turned it down.  They just eventually stopped responding to our community partner that had awarded the scholarship. 

What role does the K-12 have for the 13th grade and beyond?  What role do the local colleges have for the path to enrollment? What role does the community have to supporting our students into adulthood? 

Those are the questions that I’m left wondering about now. 

 Keep the Reflection Going


  • AVID
  • College and Career Readiness
  • EdCamp
  • HSBP
  • personal statement
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The opinions expressed by the CORElaborate Bloggers, guest bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD), Ready Washington or any employee thereof. PSESD is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Washington State Teacher Leader or Guest Bloggers.

Mary Moser Board

Library Media Specialist at Clover Park School District

I work as a high school Library Media Specialist in the Clover Park School District in Lakewood, Washington. This is my fifth year as a LMS, and my tenth year as a teacher.Before switching to the library, I taught 9th grade Humanities, which is the area that I certified in National Boards in 2013.