Recent grads learn ‘It’s Not Too Late’ to apply for fall HCC classes

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Westbury High School graduate Darling Romero’s busy work schedule kept her from registering for fall classes earlier this summer at a local community college.

“The summer went by fast, and I got caught up in work,” Romero said. “The next thing I knew, it was almost time for the (enrollment) deadline.”

The HISD College Readiness team helped students like Romero make the time to register for fall classes during the department’s “It’s Not Too Late” Application Day last week at Houston Community College-Southwest.  A second event was held at HCC-Southeast.

The event, in collaboration with HCC, is part of a new initiative to help 2014 high school graduates who have not enrolled in college apply for community college classes and financial aid.

The campaign focuses on providing college access to more than 2,000 members of HISD’s class of 2014, who did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and qualified for free or reduced lunch while enrolled at HISD.

“For many of our 2014 graduates, their senior year was focused on making up credits and balancing a job with the demands of school,” said HISD College Readiness Senior Manager David Johnston. “Applying to college and financial aid often becomes that thing they will do once they graduate. What these students find, though, is that the wonderful support structure they had while in high school is gone, and they are lost on how to access higher education.”

Romero, a Honduras native who is the first in her family to attend college, was able to register for HCC’s second start date scheduled for September. She applied to HCC before graduating but did not complete the FAFSA, which she received help with at the Application Day.

Romero decided to attend HCC to save money on college tuition. For the past 10 months, she’s held a job at a retail store to save money for school and help her family pay for various needs such as groceries.

“My parents don’t want me to stay at home and just work,” says Romero, who plans to get her associate’s degree and later transfer to a four-year university to study criminal justice. “They want me to go to school because they want the best for me.”

At HCC-Southeast Application Day, Chavez High School graduate Jessica Caballero was able to sign up to take the Texas Success Initiative Assessment used by public Texas colleges and universities to evaluate a student’s college readiness level and place them in appropriate courses. Although she was accepted to the University of Houston and Texas Southern University, she chose HCC because of the school’s affordability and proximity to her home.

“My parents will help me out as much as they can, but pretty much anything school-related, I’m on my own,” says Caballero, who will be a first-generation college student. “I want to continue my education, so I can have a better life.”

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