February 23, 2019
“Honestly, it was a very cool and eye-opening experience because I thought once you applied to college, that was it. I didn’t realize that there was this whole process after you got in. Like visiting the offices, such as financial aid, the resources office, and EOP offices. I was like ‘woaah.’ And the lines! I had no idea.” – Emijoy GEAR UP 4 LA a mentor from Bernstein High School after participating the Mock Enrollment Fair at the Spring 2019 Mentor Summit.
Our GEAR UP 4 LA mentors spent the day at Los Angeles City College increasing their college knowledge and leadership skills at the Spring 2019 Mentor Summit. They started the day by participating in a Q & A panel presentation consisting of former GEAR UP 4 LA students who shared their stories transitioning from high school to college. Our mentors also had the opportunity to create brag sheets and resumes, and got a head start on the college applications that they will be filling out next year as seniors! But the highlight of the Mentor Summit was their participation the Mock Enrollment Fair.
Our students face so many obstacles when they arrive at the university, and it is absolutely necessary we provide them with the skills and experiences needed to advocate for themselves and increase their persistence in college. Through the Mock Enrollment Fair, mentors got a taste of the grit and determination that will be needed to navigate the enrollment process once they get to college. All students were given a student profile, a financial aid letter, and tasks they needed to accomplish in order to successfully enroll in college. GEAR UP 4 LA staff created mock offices including admissions and records, financial aid, housing and meal programs, resource centers, and First Year Experience (FYE) and Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Students had to visit all of these offices in order to complete the enrollment process.
In visiting these offices, students experienced common challenges and frustrations such as having to wait in long lines, being sent from one office to the next to get more information, offices being closed for lunch, receiving conflicting information, dealing with office workers who were not helpful, etc. In addition, students were thrown “curve balls”. We know that when in college not everything goes as planned. These “curve balls” served as opportunities for our students to practice adapting to situations and persisting when things unexpectedly get tough.
The next step for our GEAR UP Mentors is to take a leadership role and bring this information back to their school sites. For their Spring Classroom Mentor Project our mentors will be bringing the Mock Enrollment Fair to their peers, except this time they will be the office workers! In doing this our mentors will have the opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills and ensure that every single student in the GEAR UP 4 LA cohort receives the same information and experience that they did at the Mentor Summit.