July 10, 2018

College Bound Academy prepares students for life after high school

Last week, TGR Foundation wrapped its 6th annual College Bound Academy, held at the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim, California. We welcomed nearly 50 rising high school seniors from the Anaheim Union High School District for a two-week immersive course in all things college! Although the program aims to introduce students to the college application process, it does much more. It helps them build resilience and confidence.

In the past, I have been part of College Bound Academy as a chaperone during off-site excursions, but this was my first time teaching in the classroom, which allowed me to track the growth of the students over the course of the two weeks.

On the first day, the auditorium was filled with silence. Students were either sitting alone or with peers from their high schools. You could feel the uncertainty and anticipation in the air. The program began with an icebreaker to help them connect with one another. Using paper fortune tellers, students rotated partners until everyone was asked one question.

Throughout the two weeks, the students explored their options and created their college lists. For many students, it was the first time they had heard of private liberal arts colleges as many were only familiar with the University of California and California State University systems.

We took the students to visit the Claremont Colleges that are a consortium of five undergraduate colleges in Claremont, California. Our students were impressed by the history behind all five colleges and how they were impacted by specific time eras. Some found their dream campuses, while others discovered the perks of private liberal arts colleges.

A visit from Christopher Spitzer, Public Relations Director of Disneyland Resort, instantly amazed our students as he offered advice and experiences from his intriguing college and career paths. Originally hailing from Staten Island, New York, he shared that never would he have thought he would one day be at the TGR Foundation speaking to students about his career path. He taught our students to embrace the unknown and not to be fearful of rejection. His words impacted our students in a positive manner because as they navigate the college application process, they will face rejections; and it’s okay.

In addition to hearing from Spitzer, the Disney Youth Education Series (YES) Program at Disney California Adventure Park welcomed the group to the park to learn about creating a leadership legacy. During the workshop, students were able to view traits of a role model and discuss how role models have impacted their life. Students also learned about Walt Disney’s legacy but more importantly relate it to their own life and the legacy they hope to accomplish. Other topics covered included core values, personal branding, interpersonal communication and more. Many students were even inspired to write their personal statements based on what they learned in the program.

On the last day of the program, students gathered in the same auditorium they once nervously walked into on their first day. This time, they were all interacting and embracing each other. Tears were flowing down their faces as they exchanged phone numbers and added each other on social media. After discussing fears about applying to college, many grew confident knowing that we would be hosting more workshops for them throughout the year.

Within two weeks, College Bound Academy opened doors to new possibilities, experiences and friendships while preparing students for life after high school and ensuring they’re not alone in the process.

Redefining what it means to be a champion.