By Katherine Nowicki
For some students, the thought of navigating the college application process may seem like climbing a mountain. The College Bound program at the Boys and Girls Club of the South Coast Area in San Clemente aims to help with this challenge.
With the recent $15,000 grant from State Farm insurance agency, College Bound will be able to expand. The staff members of the club said they hope to purchase laptops, additional desks and wireless Internet connection in the teen center over the summer so that everything will be in place for students in the fall.
State Farm representatives Adam Bock and Adriana Galdamez appeared at the Boys and Girls Club on June 25 to present College Bound with the grant.
The College Bound program began at the Harbor Area Boys and Girls Club, and this is the program’s second year in San Clemente.
“The Harbor club offered the framework for our College Bound, though the program is unique at every club,” Boys and Girls Club development director Susan Arias said.
There are currently 45 students in the San Clemente College Bound program, ranging from seventh through 12th graders. There is an increased emphasis on the high school students, but club staff members found increased success when students began college preparations earlier.
“We think of the College Bound program as a road map,” said Allen Reese, Boys and Girls Club chief professional officer. “Our goal is to guide and advise students so the process is not as frustrating.”
Students in the program are each paired with a mentor to receive help with homework, program and scholarship research, and essay writing. They also meet at least once a week for discussions and setting goals.
Twelve-year-old College Bound student Briana Fernandez noticed a change in her academic progress from the time she began studying with the program. She said her grades moved from Cs and Ds to As and Bs, her focus greatly improved and she became more interested in subjects she previously had not cared about. Recently, she was selected as a youth of the year at the club.
Through the program, students in College Bound also have the opportunity to visit college campuses, Reese said.
“I think tours have a big impact,” Reese said. “They give kids a sense of what campuses are actually like and get them excited for what is to come.”
Reese said he hopes to do more tours in the near future.
College Bound student Lucy Vega, 16, was also selected as a youth of the year at the club. Like Fernandez, the program has already helped her improve academically and realize her future goals.
“I like that every single day (College Bound) has time for homework and tutors,” Vega said. “I was never good at math and this is the first year I got an A.”
Vega said she hopes to begin her college education studying science at Saddleback College and then eventually transfer to University of California, Los Angeles.
In particular, College Bound aims to help first-generation college students who may have additional challenges in preparing for higher education.
“I was a first-generation college student,” Reese said. “I think a program like this could have really helped me back then.”
The San Clemente Boys and Girls Club serves about 2,000 students each year, staff members said. Their summer program that features both educational and recreational activities for kids just began and usually includes 200 students per day.
For more information, call 949.492.0376 or visit www.bgcsca.org.