Cullman High School hosts college readiness event with WSCC

left to right - guidance counselors Mrs. Bishop-Hollis, Mrs. Kinney, Assistant Principal Mrs. Allison Tuggle, and guidance counselor Mrs. Kristen Gragg (Photo from Instagram)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman High School (CHS) and Wallace State Community College (WSCC) came together on the CHS campus on Monday evening to offer an event that could allow parents and students an opportunity to learn how to prepare for their next possible course in life.

Cullman City Schools Secondary/Career Technical Education Coordinator Lindsay Brannon gave a statement, saying, “Cullman City Schools is proud to partner with Wallace State Community College for the first Career and College Exploration Fair. During this event, students and families are able to meet with representatives from Wallace State Community College to explore the variety of programs available right here in our own community. Our goal is to align every Cullman High School CTE program with dual enrollment opportunities at WSCC. We want to get the message out that there are Career Tech dual enrollment opportunities where students can earn college credit while in high school. In turn, when students graduate, they will be prepared to go straight into the workforce and earn competitive wages. Industry leaders are looking to us to help provide their future workforce. Hopefully events like this will be a win-win for our students, Wallace State, and local industry leaders.”

As students and parents walked through Tillman Hall, tables lined the entire room with instructors from several of Wallace State’s largest programs including Aviation/Flight Technology, Machine Tool Technology, Salon & Spa Management, Child Development, Paralegal, Business Management & Supervision, Business Education & Office Administration, Criminal Justice, Dental Assisting, Dental Hygienist, Pharmacy Technology, Medical Assistant, Emergency Medical Services and Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

Also present were tables dedicated solely to helping parents and students understand Dual Enrollment or AP classes, and how those programs can help students when beginning to work for college credits.

The head table was led by The Center for Career and Workforce Development, with director Jamie Blackmon sharing, “What we do is we help connect students to jobs and work-based learning opportunities, testing, short-term training. It all falls under our umbrella. FAME is a program with our mechatronics group, and it was a similar idea with Mercedes and our Automotive and Collision Repair program. We have the same kind of agreement with them where we train and trade to work.”

CHS Principal Kim Hall said of the event, “Concurrently, Cullman High School guidance counselors are offering two college planning seminars—one at 4:30 p.m. and one at 5:30 p.m.—to help students navigate and prepare for the college application process as well as NCAA eligibility, scholarship opportunities and FAFSA. These seminars will also be attended by a representative from Wallace to help talk about and break down FAFSA to provide a better understanding for students and parents.”

Topics included in the seminar included: how to identify colleges to best meet student needs, understanding the procedures for visiting colleges – such as excused and unexcused absences for college visits, understanding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process, gaining knowledge of scholarships available for students, learning the process for ordering transcripts through Parchment, preparing to apply for college and obtain letters of recommendation and gaining knowledge of the NCAA process for potential collegiate athletes.

Head Guidance Counselor Jill Bishop Hollis, when asked about the reallowance of college visits to Cullman High School, shared, “We are allowing college representatives to come back on campus starting this fall. They will be in Tillman Hall on Thursday afternoons during Bearcat Enrichment. So, if they contact us like UAB already has, Jacksonville State, Montevallo, Troy, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and University of Mississippi are just some of the schools that are fighting to make their way back to Cullman High School. We will be notifying our students through Schoology, as well as through morning announcements, and then through English and history classes that our campuses will be hosting these representatives, and it will be open for juniors and seniors.”

Guidance Counselor Kristin Gragg went over several policies and tips such as how to ensure that their absences due to college visits are excused according to CHS policy, and how to ensure that students’ social media profiles reflect who they want to be perceived as, in a professional way as a student.

Gragg said, “College Application Week begins on October 18 – 22. This week, a lot of colleges join together and wave application fees. So, if you are a senior and you are applying for college, go ahead and apply, even if you aren’t sure, because your fee will most likely be waived this week.”

She continued, “We also have some career coaches that will be coming, and our counselors will be walking every high school senior through the application process at WSCC. That will ensure that we know that all of our students have had the opportunity to apply for college and we know that they know the steps and they can apply for any college that they want to apply for, and we have ensured that they know the process and how to successfully complete that application.”

Todd Abbott, director of Educational Talent Search for WSCC, made sure to mention, “Wallace State will be hosting a FAFSA Night on October 18 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and it will be in the Nursing Building. There will be tons of folks from Financial Aid, some folks from my department advising, and we are going to help you knock those things out. Do come with your tax forms for this next fall, those would be 2020 taxes and if your students work, they will need to bring theirs as well. Our department is here to help guide you.”

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