By Camille Mojica Rey
When Lisa Gee's stepdaughter was ready to go to college, she and her husband found themselves unable to give her stepdaughter much in the way of guidance.
"It was a little shocking how unprepared we were," said Gee, a San Francisco resident and UCSF employee in Documents, Media & Mail. After attending UCSF's annual Plan on College! event on June 9, Gee said she is better equipped to help 13-year-old Stacy prepare for college.
"I learned a lot," Gee said. "For one thing, we will file our taxes in January the year she applies so that we can help her apply for financial aid."
That's just the kind of practical advice event organizers hope parents will heed as they help students prepare academically and financially for college and their future careers.
"The goal of this event is to give students and parents the information that they need as they start high school," said Tracy Stevens, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Science & Education Opportunity, which was founded in 1999 to encourage students from the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue a college education. "Like it or not, that's when important decisions about college preparedness are made."
Lisa Gee and her 13-year-old stepdaughter Stacy speak to Cody Jang, youth employment coordinator at Community Educational Services in San Francisco during Plan on College! day at UCSF Mission Bay.
For the first time in its eight-year history, the annual event included panels made up of freshman and sophomore college students from a variety of campuses, including the University of California, California State University and community colleges.
"It's difficult for a lot of parents to imagine their children going off and living on their own," Stevens said. "We hope they found it reassuring to see that these students are not the wild and crazy kids portrayed in movies. They are normal, good kids serious about their future."
"Students were also able to hear the truth about preparing for college from people not too much older than themselves," Stevens added.
The student panels were conducted in English, Spanish and Cantonese and were followed by presentations (also in conducted in three languages) that discussed how to prepare academically and financially for both public and private colleges, as well as the importance of extracurricular activities to a successful college application.
Katherine Aquino, associate director at San Francisco College Access Center, talks to Alicia Ortiz and her daughter Krista Ortiz, 11, at UCSF Mission Bay.
The catered event, which was held for the first time at UCSF's Mission Bay campus, also included multilingual panels and an information fair with high school counselors, local education organizations and area colleges. The event is just one of the ways that UCSF is serving the community, one of the seven priorities outlined in the University's strategic plan, released in June 2007. The plan recommends strengthening partnerships with schools, colleges and universities to enrich educational opportunities for students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The entire plan is posted here
The Plan on College! event was specifically targeted to parents and students entering San Francisco or Daly City high schools in the fall, though word of mouth means the event often draws families from other parts of the Bay Area. About 700 of the 900 parents and students who were pre-registered attended the event.
Lisa Sato, a graduate of California State University (CSU) East Bay in Hayward, said she appreciated how inclusive the event was. "I think it's great for parents who were not educated in this country," she said.
Sato said the event helped to refresh her memory of what it takes to go to college. "I totally forgot all that stuff and a lot has changed, too," she said. Sato said she and her 13-year-old daughter, Serena Ye, came away from the event feeling informed and supported. "Nowadays, you're not on your own."
For documents handed out at the Plan on College! event, go here