Opinion: Students Need to Join College Preparatory Programs


Daniela Salazar (third on the first row) on a trip with other Simon Scholar students.

As high school students, we stress about turning in assignments on time, and the pressure of passing tests crucial to our grades. We worry about a certain math problem we can’t seem to solve or the fact that we haven’t started on a project that is due in less than 3 days. But, we think we know what stress is until we reach senior year.

Many have heard that senior year is the time to relax and that junior year is the hardest year of them all. When entering senior year, there comes filling out financial aid, college applications, and asking for letters of recommendation, but school work doesn’t just disappear.

This can become overwhelming especially for first-generation students, who have no idea where to begin. This is a major reason to join a college preparatory program. There, they will help you out with any concerns and answer any questions. Programs will offer advisors who can read your PIQs as well as review your applications. Many colleges also ask you if you have participated in any college preparatory programs, which is yet another reason to join. 

There are many programs dedicated to helping students with the college process/application. Some of these programs are Simon Scholars, College Bound, and College Apps Academy. 

Simon Scholars is a well-known program at Segerstrom High School. This scholarship program begins at the end of a student’s sophomore year and continues until they are done with college. This is a competitive program in which students must have at least a 2.5 GPA, be enrolled in geometry or higher-level math, and be able to overcome adversity. The program has an application process and if selected, students will go through a series of interviews. 

“Simon Scholars has allowed me to explore my college options, understand that I can attend college and that it can be affordable for me too despite my low-income first-generation background. I recommend Simon Scholars for any student eligible because it gives you the support to achieve your college dreams and teaches you new information you wouldn’t know about college. It is such an amazing program with a variety of opportunities that help you explore your variety of options for college,” said Daniela Salazar (12).

The College Apps Academy program is meant to help students with filling out their college applications as well as helping with financial aid. I am currently in this program and have benefited greatly from it. We meet over Zoom on Thursdays from 5:00-7:00 with our wonderful advisor, Brenda Trujillo. As a first-generation student attending college, I did not know where to start or what to do. With the help of Ms. Brenda, I have filled out 2 scholarships, the GATE scholarship and Questbridge National College Match. I have also submitted my UC application almost 2 weeks before the deadline. This program has been a great resource for me and has provided the support I needed to get through the college process. 

“College access programs help build a college-going culture and prepare students to become college-bound. All students would benefit from joining these types of programs because it helps them understand their options after high school, what the requirements of applying to college are and how to become a competitive applicant. These programs are particularly beneficial to students who will be the first ones in their family to pursue higher education because sometimes their families are unable to aid them through this process. Students should continue seeking support from their Counselors and Higher Education coordinators because it is a team effort and being a part of one of these programs does not replace them. Instead, college access programs, like College Apps Academy, are additional opportunities for students to receive individualized support. At KidWorks, College Apps Academy is a program that guides high school seniors through the college admissions process, financial aid, and literacy and helps them make a school selection in the spring. In addition, once students graduate high school, KidWorks will continue serving as a support system to ensure that they successfully graduate from college,” said Brenda Trujillo.

Joining college preparatory programs gives students the extra help and support they need to succeed with their college applications. These programs can be extremely beneficial to first-generation students but anyone can join as long as they meet the requirements.