Class of 2012-this is it!

The last summer before you have to hit the ground running, take a rigorous schedule of classes, continue volunteering, joining student clubs, make friends and boyfriends or girlfriends and party like you never have before.
Oh, and you have to apply to college. That tiny detail that will change your life….forever.
Without stressing it too much, finding the right school for you is incredibly important! You want to find the school that speaks to you, that offers the classes you want to take, that admits the kids just as quirky as you, and that allows you to take a summer trip to the middle of nowhere and get credit for it too!
There are several resources available to help you find the best schools, but don’t be fooled by the fancy pictures and the funky videos the school posts on their website! Get to the nitty gritty! Check their statistics!
*How many students return to their school for sophomore year?
*How much financial aid do they offer (need based and non-need based) to students?
*How many of those really cool classes do they really offer from their general catalog of eccentric courses?
*How many students does the school admit that fall in to your GPA range?
There are several more questions to ask before putting the school on your list of colleges to apply to and before saying “yes!” to four years and up to $200,000 of tuition that your parents, the government and the school will fork over to educate you. Garza is here if you need additional assistance.
The next thing to do is read this awesome article:

10 Costly Mistakes in College Applications

We (as in my generation and the “old people”) want you (students) to be positive contributors to society, make sound decisions, and be better than us. Learn from our mistakes and make this place better. It starts with this one life changing experience…a college education.

Bringing Teens and Community Together

If you are an incoming 9th grade student or a parent of an incoming 9th grade student and live near the Alexander Hamilton High School residential area then this program is just for you!

Stepping Forward is a summer program specifically for incoming ninth grade students that meets at the park near the Robertson Recreation Center for 10 weeks Tuesday-Friday. The program starts June 28th and offers activities, leadership building, classes, field trips, academic guidance, friendship building and just something for students to do during the summer.
This is a free program for students!
For more information, contact Beth Ryan (310) 888-8787 or email at
If you are a donor, they are always looking for sponsors, too!

Community College in the fall?

High school seniors, have you made the decision to attend the local community college in the fall in lieu of the four-year university originally planned? It is in your best interest to start the application/enrollment process now (if you haven’t already done so). There is so much to do and few people holding your hand along the way…

1) Applying for the college is the first step, a student cannot register for classes without enrolling in the college. I know it sounds silly, but it can be a silly error and naive unknown.
2) Once you have applied to the college, sign up for assessments in English and Math. Don’t forget to study for the assessments! These are super important for your post-secondary future and if students fail to take these exams seriously, it could lead to several additional classes (and additional semesters needed before transferring).
3) Check to see what programs are available to students for accelerated transfer to particular universities. Honors programs, Accelerated Transfer Programs or any kind of program that offers additional advising for students are available to students on most (if not) community college campuses. Most selective majors on selective campuses offer transfer guarantee programs primarily because the receiving university wants well prepared students that have already taken the lower division courses in the major before transferring.
4) Make an appointment with a general counseling advisor. Review the necessary courses that will satisfy the general education requirements but also review the requirements for the intended major.
5) See what scholarships are available specifically for the community college students. All campuses have a financial aid/scholarship office open to students. Take advantage, even if you don’t qualify for need based federal or state financial aid.
6) Find an on-campus job. They are much more convenient for a student and they can be much more flexible than an off-campus job. Most students may need a past time job to help pay fees or books.
7) Check to see what certification or vocational programs are available at the community college and are of interest to you. Becoming certificated in a trade can come in handy if you decide to work while completing a degree after the community college. Knowing a trade is also a good skill to have.
8) Keep reminding yourself that “just community college” is a post-secondary institution. An institution of higher education gives individuals (regardless of social or economic standing) a chance to improve ones intellect but also give a chance to improve the social mobility. There are people of all ages, abilities and educational levels that enroll in community college classes. Be prepared to be challenged, to be intimidated, and to find a new love of learning in an institution of higher learning.

Summertime is around the corner….what will you be doing?

After having answered many a frantic email about what to do for summer, here are some helpful tools to consider:

If you are an incoming freshman into high school-there are few academic summer school options for you. Some local community colleges offer summer programs and there may be space available for a summer program or if programs are still recruiting students like the Design Immersion Days Program offered through the Southern California Institute for Architecture.
Another recommendation for incoming ninth grade students is to start volunteering! Offer your services at a local community garden, at the zoo, in the local library, at the YMCA or Boys and Girls Club. If you are involved with organized religion, there may be summer opportunities available for you to help out.
Students currently in grade 9 and 10 should also volunteer, find summer work, search for additional programs that are of interest to the student. If you are college bound, remember that colleges prefer students not that are necessarily “well rounded” but that have found a particular niche in their community (in addition to maintaining a strong academic profile). Colleges are searching for students with character.
Students that may have gotten less than a C (meaning a D or Fail) in an academic class that could satisfy an A-G requirement should retake the course during summer school or at a local high school that offers credit recovery or remediation. Due to severe restraints with LAUSD, summer school is offered only for current 10th and 11th grade students that have earned a D or Fail in an academic class.
For those students that want to finish high school early, have a desire to attend UCLA, and want the most financially savvy means for pursuing a post secondary education, I recommend an early college program similar to the Ralphe Bunche Scholars Program offered through LA City College.
Students can also register NOW to take courses in the fall while they are concurrently enrolled in traditional high school. See more details here!
The worst thing a high school student can do during the summer is sit around and watch TV or play video games the entire time. While that may be permissible for an hour or so, the idle time for your brain can be an incredible detriment to you in the future.