ISJ Essay: ISJ-LSA College Essay Mentoring Program

Oct 12, 2022

In mid-September, the ISJ-LSA College Essay Mentoring Program held its first quarterly meeting. Melina Gonzalez, Little Sisters of the Assumption (LSA) Community Engagement Manager, kicked off the meeting on an upbeat note. She plans a celebration in late May 2023 once the students have been accepted to college!

The students and parents expressed gratitude to LSA and ISJ for helping them with the college process. It is daunting. The mentors spoke about how much they enjoyed working with the students. In addition to college guidance, some mentors took their students to the Whitney, the Met, and the Guggenheim. Laura Silvius, mentor, took her student and her family to a performance of Macbeth. Another mentor, Christine Meyer, bought her student an SAT review book and always tells her not to stress out. One mom mentioned that her daughter was lukewarm about going to college, but now that she’s been working with Dolores Troy-Quinn and Terry Quinn, the student is looking forward to it. Nick Naccari and Fran Magenheimer’s student said that they helped her grow. Nick admires her for her perseverance, her joy for learning, taking the initiative, planning ahead, and reviewing what she has done. He also loved meeting her family.

Melina focused the students on their college timeline and gave them a list of tasks due within the week. After telling the students to ask their teachers for recommendations now, ISJ mentor and college professor, Terry Quinn emphasized making it easy for the teacher. Ask them early and write a draft of your assets. It’s always good to get specific direction from a teacher!

Melina advised parents about finances. File their 2022 taxes in January, allowing them to enter tax information into FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as early as possible. Melina also warned them that colleges increase tuition each year. To get an idea of the actual cost of college, ask them for the tuition cost for each of the last four years and interpolate. Laura de Boisblanc told students to prepare a portfolio of their accomplishments. If the college’s financial aid package isn’t where they want it to be, use their performance to negotiate with the college. This is good practice for when they are in the work world.

Because this is a new program, we discussed how it is going. Everyone is happy with the direction we are taking. There are a few areas to tweak. Communication with students is sometimes an issue. Over the summer, the number of mentor/student sessions varied from 2 times for one pair to 16 times for another. The student who could only meet twice has significant family and academic responsibilities. She even skipped a class at Hunter to come to this meeting. Bobbi and Herb Gestalder and Melina are working together to provide the extra support that this student needs.

At the end of the meeting, Melina gave each student a backpack and an Amazon gift card for school supplies.

Questions or comments, contact Laura de Boisblanc [email protected].