Ten Mile Markers Along the Road to College
by Lynn S. Hicks, College and Career Counselor
I can remember feeling fear, trepidation and excitement all knotted together in my stomach as my mother and I set out across the southeast to visit more than ten colleges during the fall of my junior year in high school. Some schools were higher on the list of priorities, so we scheduled formal tours and admissions office interviews. Some schools held intrigue and mystery which necessitated a drive through campus just to experience the ambiance of a large state school or the wonder of an ivy league university. At that point, I’m not sure which made a bigger impression -- the schools we visited or the delicious food we savored along the way! I can vividly remember standing on the campus of Furman University in front of the front gate fountain and thinking with extreme clarity the following words from scripture, “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21). Was it the beauty of the campus, the small sense of community, or the emphasis on academic excellence? All of those factors were true but I just knew it was the “right fit” for the next four years of my academic career. For my mother, I seriously think it was the huge iron gate surrounding the entire campus including a guard gate station monitoring everyone entering and leaving! I had a peace and assurance in my heart: Furman was my next home.
At Cornerstone Academy, we equip our high school students with the tools necessary in order to choose the best college for their individual needs. Colleges are becoming increasingly more competitive and more expensive. Therefore, it is important for each student to find the “best fit” in order to maximize their funds and minimize time enrolled. Cornerstone has implemented a program called College and Career Pathways to assist students on this journey. This program guides and prepares our students through the decision-making and college acceptance process.
- In August, juniors, seniors, and their parents attend an informational college and career meeting. Students receive timelines stating specific tasks to be accomplished in each month.
- In the fall, juniors and seniors attend the college fair hosted by Carson Newman in order to speak with admissions representatives from over seventy colleges and universities. The students evaluate these schools on factors including size, geographic location, cost, private/public, Christian values, sports, majors offered etc.
- We encourage students to attend preview days hosted by their top three to five college choices beginning the fall semester of their junior year. This gives the student a personal representation of what it would be like to be a student on that campus.
- The guidance office provides ongoing one-on-one counsel and assistance as students apply to colleges of their choice and pursue various scholarships. Students identify their academic strengths and weaknesses. They also explore their own career interests (as reported on the ACT interest inventory) as they compare to other professionals in various career fields.
- Juniors complete an autobiographical sketch in order to begin organizing their extracurricular activities, clubs, honors/awards, leadership and service activities. This form assists the student in completing college applications and also to assist teachers and staff in writing letters of recommendation.
- In order to assess academic strengths and weaknesses, students complete a battery of standardized tests.
High school testing sequence:
In the spring, sophomores take the ACT Plan to prepare for the ACT.
In October, juniors take the PSAT to prepare for the SAT as well as to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship.
Juniors and seniors are instructed to register for multiple ACT dates in order to achieve the highest score possible.
- Cornerstone offers dual enrollment courses through Bryan college for college credit. The Dual Enrollment Grant funds these classes with certain limits and criteria. Cornerstone Academy faculty teach these classes on our campus. Students may also enroll in dual enrollment courses after school hours at WSCC. These opportunities allow the student to accrue college credits with minimal financial commitment and to enter college with a jump start on college hours.
- The guidance office sends transcripts and letters of recommendation on behalf of the student.
- Students must complete fifteen hours of community service per high school year which comprise a blend of school, community, and church based service.
- We encourage students to meet TN Promise deadlines for applications, meetings, FAFSA, and service hours. This government scholarship will pay for any student enrolled in an AA program for two years at a participating community college or four year university up to $4,000 last dollar (after all other scholarships have been applied).
Now, as the mother of a senior, I have a whole new perspective on this road trip to college. No longer am I the senior making the “best fit” college choice, but instead I hold the role of a praying parent for my daughter to capture God’s vision for the next season of her life. It is our mission at Cornerstone Academy to prepare our students for the future by providing them with a Christ-centered, classical education that equips them to achieve academic excellence and spiritual maturity.