Preparing to go from secondary school to college is an exciting time for our alumni, but it can also feel overwhelming. There are applications to complete, essays to write, standardized tests to take, costs to consider, and much more. Harlem Academy’s College Camp offers our alumni the targeted support they need to get into top colleges.
“This is not an initiative you’d traditionally see at an elementary/middle school, but realizing our mission means extending beyond success here at Harlem Academy,” says Head of School Vinny Dotoli. “Our goal is to ensure students have the resources and support to continue that excellence on their path to and through college as well.”
Over the course of two days, rising juniors and seniors attend workshops covering topics specific to each grade. Students heading into their junior year receive guidance in preparing for success in their senior year, with a primary focus on ACT and SAT prep. They take practice tests to get a feel for the exams and guide standardized testing decisions.
Miles Williams ’16, a rising junior at Lawrenceville who hopes to study STEM at California Institute of Technology, is grateful for the opportunity to get a head start on the college process. “College Camp is a big help, especially the practice ACT and SAT tests,” he says. “Standardized tests are an important part of the college application. Knowing which test to take and what areas I need to work on puts me in a much stronger position when I retake it.”
For rising high school seniors, College Camp workshops are more comprehensive. As part of a step-by-step overview of the college application process conducted by outside experts and mentors, students learn how to craft personal essays and effective resumes. They also set goals – what they want to achieve as they gear up for college, steps to make it happen, and a concrete timeline for senior year. One-on-one counseling sessions to create a college list are also on the agenda. Another critical piece is financial planning. Rising seniors and their parents learn the ins and outs of applying for financial aid. Professionals in the field walk them through various scenarios (need-based, merit-based, federal, state, school, foundations, etc.) and the application process.
Miles is already thinking ahead to next year’s College Camp. “I know I’m a good writer, but I’m still a little concerned about the essay,” he admits. “It’s very important because it distinguishes you beyond your grades and test scores. College Camp covers that when you’re a rising senior, so I’m definitely coming back.”
Thank you to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Tri-State Area, and ArborBridge for supporting our graduates as they prepare for college.