The Texas Association for College Admission Counseling (TACAC) hosts college fairs, training events, drive-in seminars, a conference, and a student mini-camp called Camp College.
TACAC shared the description of the mini-camp: “Camp College is a college preparation program targeted to prepare a diverse group of students from across the state of Texas for college. Held on college campuses throughout Texas, Camp College is a three-day residential program that welcomes approximately one hundred twenty rising seniors for college application readiness education. The program's mentors guide students through the program.”
As a first-time mentor, I was excited, but did not know what to expect when arriving on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU), the camp host. After three days, it turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had since becoming an educational consultant ten years ago.
After checking in and meeting other admission professionals from the high school and college side, we started training to mentor the campers. The diversity of the professionals helped me grow and appreciate each of our roles in the admissions process. Twenty-four hours later, students began arriving from all over Texas by car, bus, and plane.
For some of the rising seniors I mentored, this was their first camp experience. Others had been to church camp or cheer camp, but this was quite different. It was about the college planning process. Living and walking on campus to learn about the college process reinforced its importance.
Through seminars, small group times, and one-on-one conversations, students learned about college admissions, college selection, financial aid, and perfected their admission essay with the guidance of their mentor.
While there were no pizza essays, one girl from Houston wrote how her desire to visit the island country of Japan has challenged her to learn the language and appreciate the culture. A Tyler resident wrote about how the lessons learned from cheerleading (hard work, determination, communication, leadership…) has prepared her to be successful in college and life. Another student from San Antonio described how marching band “was in her blood” (her parents marched; her band became like family).
Also from the TACAC blog, Chelsea Beard, an admission officer from San Jacinto College, reflected on her 2016 experience, “Applying for colleges can sometimes be an endless maze of confusion, frustration and stress for students. As a senior myself I was constantly lost in the process and being first generation I didn’t have anyone to turn to. I loved the idea of being able to help students through their maze and to alleviate some of the stress of going to college.”
Students also attended a college fair, experienced all that a campus had to offer (long walks to class, short hours to sleep, roommates, and campus dining).
Mentoring was fun! Working with my colleagues from across the desk was the best! If you are an independent educational consultant, school counselor or college admissions representative, you should go to camp.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.