Junior Class Attends College Planning Retreat Day

February 26, 2018


Photo Credit: Juliana Ferrie/Achona Online

In the past, Academy juniors would attend Focus 11, an event intended to inform students about religious vocations. One year, after a slight change, the day was offered to the high school college counselors as a college retreat, which led to the annual College Planning Retreat Day. Photo Credit: Juliana Ferrie/ACHONA Online

On Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, students within the Junior Class spent the day in the Brady Center for the College Planning Retreat Day, otherwise known as Focus 11. Focus 11 introduces students to the college application process in a more detailed manner. Juniors were expected to arrive at the Brady Center by 8 a.m. to start their day. Students were allowed to wear jeans and an Academy t-shirt.

The College Planning Retreat Day lasted the entire day. Through different stations, a senior panel, and other components, students were exposed to the application process from different perspectives. Students were split into three different groups and rotated between three different stations that each lasted 20 minutes long. Each station was led by a college representative. The representatives were from Eckerd College, the University of Alabama, and the University of South Florida.

Photo Credit: Mckenzie Diaz (used with permission)
USF Admissions Recruiter Advisor Audrey Miller gave her top ten tips to students in order to make the most out of their college visits. In addition, Miller described student behaviors on visits that served as her biggest pet peeves in order to warn students against them.

Within the stations, students played “The Admission Game,” learned how to make the most of their college visits, and were taught the importance of choosing a college that is the best fit for them. After the stations, the representatives formed a college panel, along with representatives from the University of North Florida and Drew University, so that students had the opportunity to ask general questions.

Photo Credit: Juliana Ferrie/Achona Online
The Admission Game, led by University of Alabama Recruiter Benet Bondi, taught the students that GPA is not the only factor that is considered during the application process, which surprised many of the juniors.

Greta Dieck (‘19) said, “I liked learning how much they cared about extracurriculars that did not necessarily have a lot of leadership qualities. During the game, people were able to ‘move up’ two spaces if they played the oboe, or if you went to the regional level for a cross country event.”

Afterwards, students participated in an essay writing workshop led by Chris Teare. Within the workshop, students went over different essay samples and discussed the common application prompts.

Mckenzie Diaz (‘19) said, “I thought that the workshop was very informative. I liked how he [Teare] went through each prompt with us and explained them. I also liked how he gave example essays for us to read. It was helpful to analyze the essays to see what could have improved them.”

After the students had lunch, the senior panel provided students with personal experience. The panel consisted of 13 seniors. Each senior described her own experience with the application process, giving the juniors an inside look into how to prepare and what to expect. Seniors emphasized the importance of managing time wisely when writing college essays. They expressed their personal regrets about waiting until the last minute, as well as the advantages of using the time over the summer to get a head start.

Anabela Ebsworth-Llavona (‘19) said, “I enjoyed the senior panel because it was beneficial in the sense that it allowed me to see other ways to approach the stressful college process. I am going to take their recommendation to start during the summer seriously.”

Photo Credit: Juliana Ferrie/Achona Online
The seniors who participated in the panel have been accepted into a wide range of schools, which include Xavier University and Florida State University.

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