As college application deadlines loom over seniors, the College and Career Center (CCC) at Berkeley High School (BHS) has seen an increase in student attendance. Since its inception in 2004, the CCC has been a place where students can come to get help and advice regarding their choices of colleges and careers. Although the CCC is open to students of all grades, seniors tend to make the most use out of the CCC’s resources.
Mary Jacobs, who has been working as an assistant in the CCC for seven years, spoke about the popularity of the center: “Lunch is widely utilized, this place is full, I’d say 100 [students] every day.” Esme Segall, a BHS senior, reiterated the tendency of the CCC to get a little crowded during this time of year stating, “Once in a while it’s hard to find a computer here.” Counselors have said that at times, they may feel slightly overwhelmed but that at the end of the day, they feel their job is an important one.
David An, a college counselor who has worked in the CCC for two years said: “I felt like doing the college application process helped me to learn a lot about myself and about my own life journey, and I really wanted to be a part of that for the seniors here at Berkeley High. I think every senior should at least stop by the CCC a couple of times their senior year to at least have a conversation with myself or the career advisor, Mr. Dopman, because high school ends pretty quick and once it’s over, the training wheels come off and it’s real life.”
The majority of BHS students believe that the CCC is an exceptional resource to have at BHS. An is happy that students are making the most of what is available: “I think the CCC is super dope because as a student, you get basically unlimited resources to scholarships, testing prep, essay advice or even advice to have a good career without having to go to college,” he said. However, An believes that the CCC has some improvements to make. “On our end, I think we could do a better job of reaching more students. I think we’ve gotten better, but I’m not satisfied with where we’re at, I want all students to feel like this is their college center, not just four-year bound college students.” He plans to change this by making more outreach into classrooms as well as having more workshops for students about the multitude of benefits and resources that the CCC has to offer. “A lot of times we get stuck in here, but getting out of here and going into the hallways and classrooms and meeting people, that’s what it’s gonna take.” The staff at the CCC hopes that this tactic will attract more students into the CCC, especially those who would only know about the CCC if the staff made an effort to advertise themselves and their resources to the student body. Jacobs said, “I would also love funding to help students pay the fees since it’s very costly to apply. Between the test fees and the application fees, and for some students who are applying as artists they have some audition fees, so if I had a wishlist it would be for increased funding, for guaranteed staffing and help with fees.” She went on to add that the CCC hopes to be able to continue updating their technology since many students find technology that is “not in good shape.”
Nonetheless, many improvements to the CCC cannot be made due to the lack of sustained funding. When asked about what could improve the CCC as a whole, Jacobs replied by saying, “The CCC is operated on a yearly grant so it would be great to have some sustained funding.”
College counselors in the CCC must reapply every year and are not able to have written contracts with the school since the CCC is only able to run because of the yearly grant.
Regardless, the majority of students undergoing college applications can agree that it is a unique resource and extremely helpful during this period of their lives. Jacobs revealed that there had been 1,915 sign-ups from the senior class alone for college visits in the CCC, where over 150 admissions counselors or directors from colleges or universities (US and international) visited the CCC. Students find these visits to be beneficial and appreciate the fact that the CCC offers them. When asked if she thought the CCC was a good resource, Segal replied by saying, “100 percent, I go here whenever I have any questions.”