July 28, 2016

Conquering college admissions: My experience with College Bound Academy

Concerned, daunted and perplexed; that was the way I felt after my junior year of high school. From an early age, I found myself fascinated by the idea of being able to grow up and become someone of my choice. However, being both an undocumented and first-generation student, it was difficult for me to go through the process on my own. Thankfully, all of these thoughts and emotions had changed just in time for senior year.

Before my junior year ended, Denisse Jover and Mehrab Sarwar, two representatives from the Tiger Woods Learning Center, spoke to my AP United States history class to tell us about the College Bound Academy program that was going to be held over the summer. I signed up, and the first day quickly approached. At first, I thought the class would be lectures and presentations, but once I was there, I realized I was wrong. Throughout those two weeks, we had icebreakers, fun and educational games, very informative workshops, a field trip to the Claremont Colleges, and we even had the opportunity to participate in a leadership program at Disneyland California Adventure! I can honestly say I enjoyed every second of this program; not only because it was very informative, but also because the staff is benevolent and resourceful. What I really liked about this program was the fact that all of my concerns were addressed. 

Throughout my junior year, I decided to start searching for scholarships, so I talked to different organizations on my campus. After many suggestions, I made a Fastweb account because I was told it was the best website for scholarships. On a daily basis, I received emails with different scholarship opportunities, but I quickly felt vexed and despondent because every single scholarship I found required the student to be a U.S. citizen. At the College Bound Academy program, I was exposed to a website for scholarships made especially for undocumented students like me. I am so thankful they had such information available because now I am able to share this valuable information with my peers who may face similar situations. 

Another aspect that I really found helpful was the workshop in which we analyzed the Common Application. I used to think that filling out the Common Application was arduous, which often caused me to turn away from private institutions. After visiting the Claremont Colleges and analyzing the Common Application, I realized that the process is much easier than I thought, and now, I will definitely apply to private universities.  

When the program ended, I no longer felt concerned, but rather confident. I learned that my status should not be a factor that’ll bring me down, but instead it will empower me to continue my educational aspirations. The College Bound Academy program introduced me to many paths which I’d never thought were possible. My name is Isaura Castro, a rising senior at Anaheim High School, and I am ready to face the college application process.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.