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Dream Team Tour Set for 07
January 29 , 2007

Organizers hope the second annual visit of the Dream Team to New Hope Baptist Church (to be held from 9 am to 12:30 pm on Saturday, February 24) will be even better than last year’s successful event.

The Dream Team, a project of the Calvin College Office of Pre-College Programs, educates families about preparing their high school-age children for college.

Tasha Paul“We assume that this information is new to our audience,” says Tasha Paul, assistant director of Pre-College Programs. “If it’s not, then we will just provide an affirmation to what they already know. But we’re going to go in with as many tools and resources as we can, hoping that this message is well-received.”

Paul launched the Dream Team last year as an associate director of admissions. The event was inspired, she says, by years of screening the files of applicants who had missed one or more crucial steps of preparation to attend college.

“In so many cases, they could have been accepted if they had been prepared,” Paul says. “For instance, they often have the grades, but they didn’t know they needed a certain amount of math or English to attend college. And if they had had that knowledge earlier, it would have had a different outcome.”

Those kinds of questions will be ably answered by the Dream Team, six hand-picked Calvin students who lead the student workshops and a facilitator to lead the parent sessions.

“I consider the students who are leading the workshops as experts,” Paul says. “They have just navigated this process of applying to college. They have successfully gone through what they’re teaching, so it’s fresh for them. They can relate well to what these high school students are going through.”

The event commences with a 9 a.m. registration and continental breakfast.

The students will then choose three workshops to attend from the list of six available.

“Standardized Tests” will cover how to prepare for the SAT or ACT, study resources, upcoming test dates, fee wavers and online registration.

“The Application Process” will cover what to consider in a college application, timelines for applications, important parts of the application, and the all-important college essay. Included will be a checklist of necessary application steps: transcripts, application fees, deadlines.

In “Financial Aid and Scholarships,” which covers the FAFSA, institutional-based aid and little-known sources of financial aid, students will also learn about “sticker price.”

“Calvin and other institutions that have that high sticker price are accessible,” Paul says. “With financial aid, you can make that happen, and we can help families figure out how to do that.”

In “Finding the Right School” students will learn the number one thing to consider when choosing a college. They will also learn about factors to consider when choosing a college, the good and bad reasons that students have chosen a school (and the consequences of both) and how to narrow down college choices.

“Preparation in High school” will brief the students on which courses to take in which high school years to prepare themselves for college.

“They’ll get a resource to map out their course work in order to meet admissions criteria for college,” Paul explains.

And in “College Visits,” students will learn what questions to ask and which people to meet when visiting one of the colleges on their list. They will learn, above all, how to have a critical eye as they visit campuses.

“Ultimately, it’s the Calvin students who are leading the workshop to pull all that together in a creative and fun and interactive way,” Paul says. “They have life-sized board games. They have skits and musical chairs. They play “Jeopardy” for financial aid. They do an excellent job.”

While the students are in their workshops, the parents who attend will be sitting in two workshops designed to answer their questions about college. They will also attend one of the student workshops.

“The overall message of these sessions is how vital parents are in the success of their child in realizing this dream of college,” Paul says.

Both students and parents will take away plenty of resources (calendars, book resources, Web resources) that will answer any of the questions they have following the event.

Paul and team are anticipating a good event.

Much of the success of last year’s Dream Team project, which was overwhelmingly confirmed by surveys, says Paul, could be credited to the planning and preparation of the education committee of New Hope Baptist Church.

“The church was key to the success of the day. They were great at promotion of the event, not just to New Hope, but more broadly,” she says. “The whole education committee attended. They didn’t have to but they came out and attended throughout the day. This is really a partnership, a true partnership, between the college and the church. We’re just hoping to get even more people to attend.”

~written by communications and marketing staff writer Myrna Anderson