By Sean Neary
At Lincoln High, many students wouldn’t normally have the resources to search for or apply for colleges, or have the opportunity to go on college visits. Others are simply scared of where they’re heading. That’s why there’s the College Club. The College Club provides those opportunities for free.
“The club is really for any students, usually juniors and seniors, who just want to get a jumpstart on finding information about college and getting the help they need,” College Club Representative Judy Tuttle said.
The club has been funded by a College Access Grant that Lincoln High got almost seven years ago, giving us $20,000 a year for four years, according to Tuttle. “Once you’ve had it for four years, you have to take a couple years off before you can re-apply, so we haven’t had a College Club the last two years.”
The grant was provided by an organization called Education Quest, a Nebraska organization that helps all high schools across the state of Nebraska with college access opportunities.
“We have had several field trips to several universities across the state of Nebraska,” Tuttle said. “We took a group of sophomores to UNL for a special tour and day for them. We also had a trip for juniors that will be first-generation college-goers in their family.”
There were nine different trips in the fall that anybody could go to. They were to: UNL, UNK, UNO, Peru State College, Wayne State College, SCC, Doane College, Concordia College and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
“In addition, we have supplied an ACT Prep Class for students, so that they can improve their ACT scores,” Tuttle said.
There is also College Club itself, which meets on Tuesdays after school, in room 215 at 2:15 on PLC days. The club helps students search for scholarships, search for schools that fit their needs, helps them apply for the FAFSA, and other things the counselors help students with on a daily basis.
Some scholarships they’ve applied for as a group include, The Southeast Community College Learn to Dream Scholarship, which gives students a 2-year full-ride scholarship to SCC; the long list of scholarships from the LPS Foundation; and another large set of scholarships from the Lancaster County Foundation. These 200+ scholarships vary in required criteria, making sure that there is at least one fit for each student.
College Club isn’t only about finding scholarships and future paths. It is also the best place to go for after school snacks and other good food. Every Tuesday during PLC time, stop by room 215 at 2:15 for a surprise snack each week, such as pop-tarts, pizza, or a McDonalds gift card.
“The grant helps pay for that as well,” Tuttle said. “We know a lot of kids, normally after school, would go home and get snacks, so if we’re going to expect them to stay after school with us, we just want to provide snacks and make it a fun atmosphere. We are all about making it fun.” Tuttle also said that part of the reason for snacks is to recruit more students.
Also, when the College Club goes on college field trips, plenty of what Tuttle calls “good food” is guaranteed.
“Most of the colleges let us just eat in their dining hall so that our students can get a feel for what it is like going to college and eating in a dining hall,” Tuttle said, “They also just want to make a good impression on us.”
“So far I think it’s going great,” Tuttle said, “We’ve had over 80 students come to College Club, and a lot of those are minorities or are on free and reduced lunch, and it’s helped provide them with information and opportunities they might not have had if it hadn’t been for College Club.”
Four LHS students have been nominated for a scholarship through college access. “We don’t know yet whether they got the scholarship, but the grant has really been a great resource for us to provide opportunities for students,” Tuttle added.
“We know that towards the end of our last grant, our college-going rate was at about 65%. Then, in the last couple years, without a College Club, it dropped to 40-50%, so our goal is to get those numbers back up again,” Tuttle said. “When we have the grant money, it allows us to really pour a lot into our students that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise, so we just want to get that percent back up to 60 or 70%. That would be awesome.”
For more information, see Tuttle in Math Office, stop by on Tuesdays after school in room 215, or talk to your counselor.