Those were messages stressed repeatedly to about 500 high school students – and their parents – who attended the Oxnard Union High School District’s second annual Higher Education Family Event held Oct. 20 at the Oxnard Performing Arts Convention Center.
“When it comes to college, it’s all about being prepared,” said Hilda Gomez, OUHSD’s Parent Liaison, a member of a districtwide committee that helped organize the event with assistance from UC Santa Barbara’s Early Academic Outreach Program.
Guest speakers included Britt Ortiz, Director of UCSB’s EAO Program, Oxnard College President Richard Duran and Bill Dabbs, OUHSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, who implored students and parents to keep the lines of communication open during the college application and selection process.
“They may want to go college 1,000 miles away and you may want them to stay within 50 miles,” Dabbs said, “so this is a discussion you have to have.”
But, in the end, Dabbs told the parents, “It’s really isn’t about us. Once they’re in college they’re on their own, so you have to be comfortable with the choices you make. And they need your support.”
During hour-long presentations – one made in English and one made in Spanish – students and parents learned about college admission requirements as well as financial aid and scholarship opportunities that are available to them. They also heard about special programs and services colleges offer.
A College Fair followed, with representatives from close to 20 colleges and universities on hand to provide information and answer questions about their schools. Area schools like California State University Channel Islands, California Lutheran University and UC Santa Barbara had tables, but so did faraway schools like California State University Chico and Humboldt State University.
Stacie Lyans, a senior admissions counselor for Humboldt State, said she made the 700-mile trek from Arcata near the Oregon border because of the university’s strong push to attract more minority students.
“I tell students that if they want to experience something new and go to a school in an amazingly beautiful location, you can’t beat Humboldt State,” Lyans said.
In addition to traditional universities, there also were trade schools represented at the fair, including the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandizing in Los Angeles and the NewSchool of Architecture & Design in San Diego.
“We’re looking for students who have art skills but don’t know what to do with them – you know, the ones that doodle in English class,” cracked Peter Evering, the school’s admissions field representative.
Celeste Bell, a senior at Pacifica High, stopped by Evering’s table and walked away impressed.
“I’m kind of interested in architecture, but I’m also thinking about being a teacher,” said Bell, who listed Long Beach State and Spelman College, a small liberal arts school in Atlanta, as other possible college destinations. “I’m all over the place, so that’s why I keep looking.”