The Path to Higher Education: How to Prepare for College at NDCHS

The Path to Higher Education: How to Prepare for College at NDCHS

Prospective high school graduates are likely looking forward to the moment they graduate, and thinking about the exciting possibilities that come later. But any student on the verge of this monumental achievement, no matter what age or grade, is likely in need of some preparation and guidance from educators. At New Dawn Charter High School, we strive to prepare our students for higher education and beyond. Let's look at the ways NDCHS implements these strategies for how to prepare for college and helps its students go on to achieve their goals.

What New Dawn Does Differently

As a transfer charter high school, we serve students from a variety of educational backgrounds and high schools. Often their education has been disrupted and they become disconnected from their educational goals. At New Dawn, we focus on these strategies to re-bridge the gap.

Academic, College, and Career Preparation

To re-bridge a student with their education, we assess students' reading and math skills using IXL when they first enter New Dawn Charter School. Once a baseline is established, we schedule students in math and reading classes according to the gap that needs to be bridged to reach their grade-level reading and writing.

New Dawn particularly focuses on college and career readiness. This goal is supported via our Internship Program and our Bridges Program.

In our Internship Program, students with more than 10 credits alternate weekly between their academics and internship. The internship experience centers on completing a portfolio to prepare them for their internship site, focusing on hard and soft skills related to career readiness. In this program, students learn how to write cover letters, resumes, and thank you letters, all of which are critical to the job application process. They also work on interview preparation, communication skills, and professionalism. Once they complete pre-training, students are placed at one of our partnered sites and complete 20 hours of real-life work skills training a week. 

Additionally, New Dawn worked closely with our own seniors to develop the Bridges Program. This initiative provides one-on-one sessions with a guidance counselor for students to develop a plan for college or career readiness. For those interested in college, counselors help with every step of the application process, including FAFSA completion, college visits, and letters of recommendation. Guidance counselors also work with parents, because the college application process can be difficult and confusing for anyone.

Test Preparation

Many schools have waived the SAT testing requirement as a result of COVID-era changes in standards. However, we do still work with students on standardized testing by administering both PSATs and SATs. As more schools remove the waiver for the SAT testing, we will continue to adjust our efforts to accommodate the necessary preparation for standardized testing through partnership with community members and organizations who provide SAT courses.

Extracurricular Activities and Engagement

One of the biggest programs that set New Dawn students apart is the Internship Program. It allows students to gain hands-on, real-world experience in an internship site every semester. This helps foster both career and professional development and helps build resumes.

Additionally, New Dawn Charter High School's basketball team is a popular way for students to blow off some steam and have fun. It also develops a sense of teamwork and discipline. 

Our Culinary Arts Program is a great outlet for students interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts field. Students spend 20 hours a week in the kitchen, learning necessary skills to further their careers in the field of culinary arts or pave the way for their education at a culinary arts college. New Dawn is currently in the process of turning this into a CTE certified program.

Personalized Guidance

NDCHS provides one-on-one meetings for individual students every semester, in which a trained staff member reviews students' transcript and audit sheets. The staff member then gives a breakdown of what's required for the student to graduate.

Aside from guidance counselor support, mental health counselors support students via one-on-one counseling. All students can receive this kind of support regardless of their IEP status.

New Dawn also employs a staff-student mentoring program in which every staff member at New Dawn (including the Executive Director) has a small case-load of students they mentor through their time at New Dawn.

Our outreach team also provides home visits to students that may require extra support to return to their education. This team can help connect students to community services and provide support to those who struggle with chronic absenteeism.

Tips for How to Prepare for College

While New Dawn Charter High School has initiatives and methods to help over-aged and under-credited individuals who aspire to embark into higher education, we'll also go over some broader tips for any prospective college students.

Set your goals and expectations

Before diving into college preparation, carve out a moment for introspection and goal setting. Reflect on what you aim to achieve academically, personally, and professionally during your college years. What kind of college majors would you be interested in? What career fields do you see yourself thriving in? Establishing clear goals and realistic expectations early on will give you a compass to guide your decisions and efforts. Every step taken will be a stride toward success and fulfillment.

Find support and mentorship with staff members at your school

Teachers, counselors, and mentors can provide invaluable guidance, resources, and encouragement, helping you navigate the complexities of college applications, financial aid, and academic preparation. They can help you to be prepared, as well as empowered, to take this significant step forward. At New Dawn, you'll find a wealth of resources for support.

Focus on being a "well-rounded" prospective student

College admissions rely on more than just academic prowess. Colleges want to see that you're a well-rounded individual who's able to balance the rigor of academics with extracurricular activities and personal obligations. Find ways to get creative, give back to your community, or get involved with volunteering while you're still in high school. It's a great way to practice time management, too.

Look into scholarships and financial aid

It's no secret that college is expensive, and student loans can be predatory. Although FAFSA is a helpful source of college financial aid, you should also actively seek out scholarship opportunities. Focus on college scholarships tailored to your unique background, achievements, and needs. Diligently research and apply to a broad spectrum of scholarships. This can significantly increase your chances of securing the financial support you need. Don't forget — school counselors can provide a wealth of information when it comes to finding scholarships.

Financial planning is also crucial when you are considering taking on college tuition. Will you be working when you're taking college courses? Do you plan to take out loans? How long will it take you to pay them back? Anticipate ALL costs before you begin making financial commitments.

Write down all important dates and deadlines

Most schools have lists of important admissions dates and college application deadlines on their websites. Don't just look at them — write them down and keep them in an easy-to-find place, or even a calendar on your phone. Don't wait until the last minute, whether that's writing your college essay or sending in your ACT scores.

The New Dawn Difference

Whether your student hopes to walk the halls of their dream college campus one day or find the right skills and certifications for a successful career, New Dawn can help. New Dawn Charter School is a New York City Transfer School designed and dedicated to helping students who have either dropped out or are in-school truants — those who will most likely not graduate with their four-year 9th grade peers.

If you're interested in enrolling your high school student in New Dawn Charter High School, find out here whether they're eligible for enrollment and get your application started today!