Next stop: College


Ana Hernandez

While it’s closed in this picture, Mr. Chiakulas’s door is always open to help students with any questions they might have about taking those next steps beyond high school.

Ana Hernandez, Staff Writer

When we walk through the doors at Round Lake High School as freshmen, college seems so far away. Then we blink our eyes and suddenly we’re seniors trying to make sense of the college pathway. Many students felt a little better after attending the counseling department’s Collegepalooza Sept. 10-15. College counselor Mr. Christopher Chiakulas organized the event, where students were able to get answers to their common questions and concerns regarding applying to college.

Collegepalooza had originally started five years ago after seeing how many seniors seemed totally lost on how to start. This year, it seemed most students who attended the Collegepalooza event were at least familiar with the whole college application process. “A lot of students had already started their applications because we had lots of events and senior week,” Chiakulas said.

Collegepalooza was a success and was a great resource for many people who had trouble knowing where to start. But if you were unable to attend Collegepalooza, do not despair. The college and career department has plenty of other opportunities available for RLHS students. Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities available to students this fall:

FAFSA Fest, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, 3:30-8:00 p.m.

If you are a citizen in the United States or an eligible non-citizen, you are eligible for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). On Oct. 12, bring charged iPads and a guardian to the commons at RLHS. Counselors will be available to help families and students who might be struggling to fill out the application. In addition to iPads, you must also bring you family’s 2017 tax information, Social Security number, records of income, information about assets, driver’s licenses, and alien registration number, if you have one. It’s also important to remember dates of birth, and months and years of marriage, separation, or divorce. Although it is not mandatory to attend the event, keep in mind you must try and aim to submit the application by Thanksgiving. (That’s why you’ll see the “Before you Feast-FAFSA” signs hanging up around the school.)

“If you [fill out your FAFSA application] before Thanksgiving, you should be good,” Chiakulas said. “We usually try to aim for this deadline just because there is some state financial aid that does run on and we want everyone to have a chance to earn some money.”

College of Lake Country College Fair, Thursday, Oct. 18, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Meet with representatives from more than 170 colleges and universities at CLC’s college fair in the Physical Education Center in building 7 at the Grayslake campus. If you missed FAFSA Fest, you can also attend a session on financial aid here as well.

Get those college apps in!

November 1 isn’t exactly a specific event as much as it is an extremely important date to remember. And most students have a lot of soul searching and reflection before they can meet this deadline. After all, one of the most important steps in the college journey is to first figure out what that next step beyond high school is, exactly. Will you be attending a four-year college? Will you attend a two-year community college and then transfer, or are you going a different route, such as a trade school or the military? 

“[By keeping Nov. 1 in mind, it] will make sure you don’t miss any important application deadlines or eligibility for scholarships or financial aid, admission to certain selected programs,” said Chiakulas.

For more information on how to start the college application process, check out the Winter 2017 issue of The Blaize. Copies are available in the library.  RLHS has plenty of other resources to help you keep your timelines and to-do lists straight, too. For instance, you can always make sure to meet with a counselor or check in with a college ambassador from RLHS. 

 “The college process is very stressful and you certainly need someone there for you for any questions or moral support for every step of the way,” said college ambassador Erandi Castro, a senior. “I can help by informing other important dates, deadlines, events such as college reps, college fairs, and much more!” The ambassadors are trained and capable of answering most college app questions. And if you have a quick question on how to ask for a transcript, how to write your essay, how to ask for a letter of recommendation, there are plenty of printed resources in front of Mr. Chiakulas’s office with helpful, step-by-step instructions.

Stay alert to morning announcements as well, as more college representatives will be coming here to RLHS. Check out the sign-up sheet in the counselors’ office for a more specific idea of which schools will be here.