Whatever happened to College Knowledge?

A subtler change in the Jones community brings more initiative to the college admissions process.


Art by JiaLin Mei

Whether one found it useful or a waste of their time, College Knowledge used to be a class not too long ago and was integral for many Jones students’ to help face their transition into college. However, as Jones confronts its own progressive years of change, the counseling department has had to push back the college readiness class.

The course was first given to students in 2008 to the Class of 2009 as they were applying to colleges as seniors. The following year, the Class of 2010 was the first class to get the junior and senior version of the semester class, meeting daily with their counselor (this was before the block-schedule, and students had their classes every single day). The course wasn’t required, but it was highly recommended as counselor Sajida Syed said.

“The ultimate goal is that by the end of first semester senior year, all students will have earned a solid score on the ACT, whatever that means for you; applied to a minimum of five colleges; submitted a minimum of five scholarship applications; and completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),” Syed said.

Junior classes were given a mixture of ACT prep, career and college exploration, and seminar lectures. Senior year was taken as an overview of the counseling lectures taught in junior year and an overview of the college application process.

Both Syed and fellow counselor Tamera Driver both agree on the growth in student body being the major block in continuing this class. “[At first] We went from one freshmen counselor and two sophomore-senior counselors, then to three freshmen and sophomore counselors and two junior senior counselors this year,” Driver said. By increasing the number of students, the classes became far more difficult to manage, and dividing them into seminars-sections that utilize class time and AcLab time seemed far more efficient. The same lectures on college essays, financial aid, getting-to know-yourself, scholarships, and how to choose a college are still being given, but the manner its being executed has changed.

“The lessons have been cut down since it is not a class anymore. Much more responsibility has been placed on the student to complete applications and reach out to counselors when help is needed,” Syed said.

With the Class of 2014 being the last to receive the senior version of college knowledge, the current Class of 2015 is the first class to not receive any college knowledge classes since it was introduced.

Natia Weathers ’15 found the new class sessions to have mixed reactions, “I found it effective, but my classmates found it a waste of their time because they felt that they could have just looked up the information online and the counselors could have given packets to look over instead of taking a whole entire class period to talk about it.”

Similarly, this drop in morale and dedication seems to be across the board. “The students are also not required to attend the AcLab lessons, therefore not all students take the initiative to attend all of the lessons and seek help from the counselors,” says Syed.

Some seniors find that bringing back the class would have helped their transition into college more. While acknowledging the benefits, Tony An ’15 reflects part of this sympathy, feeling that a class would have given him “more ACT Prep and sample college essays” and “more help with my college portfolio.”

“[The classes] were helpful because students had a dedicated time in the day to work on college applications and also had immediate contact with their counselor. ​Students and counselors were able to build a strong rapport and it provided time to over materials that student didn’t understand the first time,” Syed said.

Despite this, the counselors have little doubt that the seminars will be effective. The counseling department plans to hire another junior and senior counselor next year, and the following years will bring on more change as the school increases in size.

“[College Knowledge seminars] are very effective as long as the student attends,” said Syed.