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Class helps students prepare for college

With college and scholarship applications, tests and choosing a career, senior year of high school can be tough. But for the first time this year, seniors at Ironton High School have a class to help them through those processes.

“Journeys to College,” a class that combines ACT and college prep, is modeled after a similar class at South Webster High School.

“There’s always someone out there with a better idea than you and you have to be open to that,” Principal Joe Rowe said.

South Webster has been doing the program for a few years and has seen an increase in students’ interest in college, Rowe said.

“It’s not an overnight thing but I’m very proud of the efforts of the teachers,” he said.

The ACT prep portion of the class focuses on science, math, reading and English, all of which are areas assessed by the college entrance exam.

Several students, like Chris Warner, achieved a higher score on the test after having the course. Warner got a 28 on the test when he took it the first time. After taking the class, he scored 32.

“It’s definitely helped me on the ACT,” Warner said of the class. “And it’s definitely helped me get ready for college.”

Angelika Daniels, who works at IHS as a part of the Ironton College Access Program, said ACT scores and grade point averages are very important when applying to colleges and for scholarships.

One school that used to consider applicants with a 26 or higher on the ACT, now looks for applicants with a 27 because of the high volume of applications it receives from freshmen each year, she said.

Rowe agreed that students need to have competitive test scores these days to qualify for scholarships.

“With today’s college market, it’s way more competitive at each of the colleges,” Rowe said. “It’s much more competitive than when I was in school.”

The class also helps students apply for scholarships and financial aid, a process that may be unfamiliar to students with parents who did not attend college.

“A lot of times parents don’t understand that unless you fill out a free application (for financial aid) the school won’t make you an offer because they’ll think you have the money to pay for it,” said Daniels.

Before the class, students had to miss instruction time in some of their other classes if they wanted to talk about college. Now students have more time to ask questions, she said.

“And you don’t have to pull them out of English and all that,” Daniels said.

The school has received a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents that along other things pays for every junior and senior student to take the ACT.

Because it will receive the same grant next year, the school can more adequately assess how effective the class is and how much the students have improved.

“That’s going to be a good thing,” Daniels said.