by Marc DeWitt
As a new member of ReadySetLaunch, I took part for the first time three weeks ago in the bi-annual review session of applications for the following semester. I joined a group of over thirty mentors in the Calhoun Fellow Lounge at Yale University to determine which high school students are best suited for our online mentoring program. Each individual application received great scrutiny and was typically reviewed by ten different people. This thorough selection process made me truly proud to form part of this organization. Contrary to many other groups on campus, my peers were not involved for some superficial resume-building cause. Instead, their eagerness illustrated how ReadySetLaunch makes greats strides to have a positive impact on each student’s life.
Most high school students accepted into ReadySetLaunch are deserving of admission in a quality public college, but are not receiving sufficient help from either their schools or families to succeed in the increasingly complex college admissions process. For example, the guidance counselor of one partner school frustratingly wrote identical recommendation letters for all eight students that applied from that school. This only goes to show how the students tend to greatly benefit from the guidance and support of concerned mentors.
One thing I found particularly exciting was the diversity of the applicants. On the one hand, many of the high school students involved in ReadySetLaunch have stood out in their high school. Two applicants were involved with the school student council and one was an editor for a student publication. There were also several applicants who demonstrated their dedication to theater or art. It was great to see already that many had already taken the initiative to seek out schools suited to their particular interest. On the other hand, many of the applicants came from poor financial circumstances and were unable to participate as extensively in school life because they either needed to work after school to contribute to family income, take care of younger siblings or sick parents. The life stories of the students came out in their short essays they wrote as part of their application, allowing our mentors to pair themselves up with students they felt they would be able to personally connect with.
I was not the only first-timer at the application review session. The experience had a similar impact on many of the other new members. For Caroline Warner, a freshman at Yale, the review session made her even more excited to begin working with her newly assigned student. “It was amazing how I instantly connected with the background of the student I will begin helping come spring. I think my own experiences in high school will be extremely relevant as we both have keen interest in politics and international relations. I can’t wait to start!”
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