Class of 2024 College Boot Camp

For the second year, GALA hosted a college boot camp that aimed to prepare current juniors for the college application process and experience. It’s a new tradition here, but it’s already in full swing. This year, it took place from January 24th to the 26th. Class of 2024 students participated in informational lectures, group work, and workshopping, led by speakers from the Student Leadership Network. As a junior myself, I can attest to the helpfulness of this boot camp. Going in knowing next to nothing about the college application process, I was reassured that college is well within my reach. This boot camp served as a necessary step in the direction of further education.

The first day was an overview of some basic requirements of the application process, along with information on California-specific schools. We learned about letters of recommendation (preferably from teachers from grades 10-12), the Common App (an application for both public and private schools), and educational opportunity programs (which provide academic support and retention services to first-generation, historically low-income students). Not only that, but we spent a considerable amount of time learning about the Universities of California (UCs), California State Universities (CSUs), and California Community Colleges (CCCs). Although this session was all day, from 9 am to 3:35 pm, it was a good way to kick start the boot camp.

Day two was completely focused on the college essay, specifically, the personal statement. What was so intriguing about this session was the amount of time dedicated to brainstorming our own ideas. We read and analyzed multiple example essays, which gave us a metric as to what our essays should look like. Johanna Mueller, a fellow member of the class of 2024, said, “I thought the session on writing the college essay was particularly engaging. The conversations that arose were cool and Shannon, the presenter, was incredibly friendly and got me interested in the whole process.”

The third and final day centered around financial aid. Among the juniors I’ve talked to, there’s a pretty solid consensus that we were most unknowing and stressed going into this day/topic. “The college boot camp allowed me to gain necessary information on what financial aid and scholarships could look like, and encouraged me to have important conversations with my parents,” said Ariani Ray. All in all, this day was successful in easing our minds a bit. Going in knowing nothing, and coming out having a good basis of the information, is always encouraging.

This boot camp provided a wealth of invaluable information, and the class of 2024 appreciates the time and effort this took. Of course, there’s no way three days of college talk could eliminate all fears, but it is important that we got a chance to learn about this process that’s coming up all too soon.