WESTFIELD – Westfield High School held a Massachusetts College Application Celebration this week in the library to help seniors apply for colleges. The goal, according to Megan Stopa, guidance department chair, was 30% participation by seniors, which was met and then some. 130 seniors out of the class of 300 took advantage of the event to start their college application process.
This is the first year that Westfield High School has participated in the state initiative, which came out of a national initiative. Stopa signed up to do it last year, but when it didn’t come to fruition, she registered again in the spring for a week-long event this year.
“I think at this age, they’re not used to deadlines. Now they can relax, and look at scholarships, and concentrate on the next road,” Stopa said.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the guidance team helped seniors to fill out the common application online, and answer questions.
On Thursday, admissions staff from Elms College, Bay Path University, Anna Marie College in Worcester, American International College and Western New England University came and interviewed students for admission. They offered on-the-spot admission, and what was a surprise to everyone, on-the-spot scholarships.
School counselor Kristen Puleo said they awarded $438,000 to twenty students on Thursday. She said, multiplied by four years, that’s a $1,736,000 value. All of the colleges that participated also waived their admission fees.
“It’s outstanding. The opportunity to work one-on-one with students, the opportunity to work with admissions counselors,” Puleo said. “Often times, students miss out on scholarship because it’s so late, or they don’t apply to college at all because of the fees. We removed the barrier for a lot of students,” she added.
On Friday, Westfield State University, Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College sent representatives. Katelyn Shea, assistant director of Admissions for Westfield State University said this is the second year they have participated in the celebration, but the first year in Westfield.
“The event makes it easier for students to obtain and fill out an application, and put a face with an institution. It’s less stressful, less overwhelming,” Shea said. While WSU is not able to offer on-the-spot admissions, they are able to make recommendations to the students.
“It’s a more comfortable place, as opposed to a general college fair,” Shea added.
“I think it’s really important for the students to ease some of their anxieties about being accepted to a college. Applications take a while, and instant acceptance takes away the tension. When $20,000 is offered to them, it opens up a lot of doors,” said WHS principal Charles Jendrysik.
Jendrysik, who started in August, was quick to add that he was not involved in the planning for the event.
“The guidance department deserves all the credit. By networking with the schools, they went above and beyond to create opportunities for their students,” he said.