High School Seniors look to the future

WESTFIELD- Many local high school seniors are patiently awaiting their letters from colleges and universities that they have recently applied to.
On average, seniors apply to two “reach” schools, as well as three to four other schools they could realistically see themselves attending. According to Westfield High School guidance counselor Alison Kelly, it is very rare to see students from Westfield High apply to Ivy League Schools, although a few seniors each year do.
Although it changes from year to year, Westfield High School saw 49 percent of their senior class last year attend a four-year school this past fall, and a slight increase in students enlisting in the armed forces.
Many students, due to the rising costs of tuition, attend community colleges such as Holyoke Community College, for their first year or two, to get their core classes out of the way and later transfer to other schools their sophomore or junior year.
Applying to schools has become more competitive over the years, and now applicants need more than just high grades and test scores. Colleges and universities now look for leadership experience and involvement from within both the community and the school.
“Westfield looks for talented students who demonstrate the potential to succeed at the University” said Dr. Kelly Hart, Westfield State University’s (WSU) director of admissions. “We take into account a student’s grade point average, his/her SAT scores (or ACT Scores), optional letters of recommendation, as well as extra-curricular activities and community service.”
Hart added that Westfield State seeks to “identify students that have a desire to excel both academically and personally at the college level.”
School accreditation has also become an issue when students apply to college. Local schools including Westfield High School, Southwick-Tolland Regional High School and Gateway Regional High School are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Public Secondary Schools (CPSS).
According to the CPSS website, their goal is to ensure that “all students experience an equitable, quality education vital to the success of a democratic society.” In addition, the Association serves the public and the educational community by “establishing and maintaining high standards of educational excellence and utilizing evaluation processes which focus on self-improvement through effective peer review.”
While Westfield High School and Gateway Regional High School were last reviewed for their accreditation in 2007, Southwick-Tolland Regional High School was last reviewed in 2005.
Schools that voluntarily want to become part of the Association must undergo an evaluation processes in which they meet established standards, as well as partake in a self-study with participation from teachers, administrators, staff, and students.
On behalf of WSU, Hart said that a high school’s accreditation does have an effect on an applicant because WSU only considers interested students who come from regionally accredited high schools.

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