Commentary: Students Need College Prep Resources

March 20, 2013 /

CVHS graduate Alejandra Alarcon believes additional college prep resources would have helped her through the college application process last year. She hopes high school students will attend the upcoming higher education conference and take advantage of the available resources.


ALEJANDRA ALARCON/Coachella Unincorporated


COACHELLA — With few college preparatory resources, I was not prepared for the financial demands and special requirements that are an important part of applying for college and financial aid.

As a Coachella Valley High School student with extraordinary goals, average grades were not going to cut it. However, it was not until I was a junior in high school that I started to work hard for above average grades – no realizing that my grades from my first two years would be crucial for my applications.

Raices Cultura is taking steps to empower youth to be better prepared for the college application process with their first annual higher education conference, “El Poder De Saber.”

The conference will take place at Coachella Valley High School this Saturday, March 23, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“This opportunity is to provide resources and information to high school students about opportunities for higher education,” said Gabriel Perez, chairman of Raices. “We are targeting freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, because it might capture their interests if they are not fully on the college track. Hopefully it’s something that will inspire them.”

Raices Cultura invites high school students, parents, and anyone who is interested in the pursuit of higher education to attend. Information on college preparation will be available, including managing the application process, careers, financial aid workshops, and AB540 student resources will be available. Coachella Unincorporated will lead a workshop on writing your personal statement.

Rep. Raul Ruiz M.D. and Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez will be featured speakers. Lunch will be served to those in attendance.

With only a 2.8 grade point average, I knew my chances of being accepted to competitive four-year colleges were slim. I always wanted to follow in my sister’s foot steps and go to college, but at the time, I cared more about what people thought of me in high school than my grades and threw away a lot of opportunities.

When I was a junior, I recall a counselor going inside my classroom and asking, “Who’s going to college?”

Everyone, including myself, raised their hands. Throughout the counselor’s presentation, I realized my GPA was considered “just getting by” and “mediocre.” I managed to raise my GPA my junior year, but not enough to stand out from the crowd of high school seniors throughout the world that wanted to attend the same universities.

I did get a lot of help from high school counselors, but with only two counselors available for demanding seniors, it was difficult to get individual time with them. I do not recall having many available resources for college preparation. If I did not have my sister, who knew how to work the system, I would have been a deer in the headlights in front of the computer screen.

Luckily, I had someone to guide me.

I also helped many of my friends through application process even though I barely had enough time to manage the process for myself. Keeping up with deadline after deadline and passing my AP classes were my priority.

I decided to help plan “El Poder De Saber” conference because I have learned from my mistakes and want to help high school students, such as my younger sister, be better prepare for the process.

As a senior, I did get accepted to several universities; however, I did not have sufficient financial help.

“We’re seeing that people that come back from college are having trouble with employment and that students that are in college face high college expenses. We want to address all those problems in one event. With our experience we want to be a resource for high school students and for parents,” Perez said.

This conference can benefit everyone. Community leaders are getting together to address different obstacles they had to overcome and everyone’s different circumstance.

“We’re trying to gather a lot of community resources together that might not always be available to youth,” Perez added.

“Talented students from Desert Mirage High and Coachella Valley High have the potential to become successful and will be the solution to creating more jobs,” Perez said.

It is important to get involved. The community is reaching out with open arms to help our young people get ready for college.


For event information, please contact Erika Ramirez at [email protected] or visit the official Raices website at



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