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CCES College Counseling: Transitions to College for Seniors

Kim Gendron, Social Media Coordinator

When we say CCES College Counseling programming is “comprehensive in nature and highly personalized,” we are not exaggerating!  Getting our students “college ready” starts with well-designed and interactive curriculums in the earlier grades and culminates in the Upper School with three dedicated college counselors who work closely with each student to help them find their best college match.  In 2018, Upper School administration took college counseling one-step further by introducing a new series for seniors dubbed Transitions to College: School Life, Academics, Personal Finance, and Healthy Relationships— focusing on the things we all wish we’d known before we left for college, but no one ever told us. Seniors gave a mere hour of their time of their time for each session, an investment that will pay them back in spades. 
 
The first day of programming kicked off with self-defense classes, led by Ashley Bickerstaff and Terence Brister from Unified Self Defense. Terence is the owner and a State Certified Law Enforcement Officer with 13 years of experience in the military, law enforcement, and personal protection services. Ashley is a home invasion survivor and a huge advocate of self-defense classes. The two educated students in simple and effective self-defense techniques that they could easily retain. 

Students finished the first day with an Alumni Zoom Panel. Moderated by Bartley Sides, Associate Director of College Counseling, five CCES alumni shared about their college experiences, focusing specifically on school life. Panelists were asked questions including:  
  • What is your favorite part of college?
  • What do you wish you had known before entering college?
  • How have you found opportunities to get involved?
  • Have your study skills changed from high school?
  • What do you miss most about CCES?
Panelists, which included Cameron Baird ’20 (Furman University), Hailey Henderson ’21 (Tulane University), Mac Ridgeway ’21 (Rhodes College), Ethan Riordan ’21 (University of Florida), and Ayana Richburg ’21 (Hampton University), discussed the stressors, anxieties, joys, and experiences they have had their first year in college. 
 
The next event in this series was a relationship boundaries workshop with Dr. Melisa Holmes, current CCES parent, M.D., and Girlology/Guyology co-founder. As these students are mature enough for a discussion on sexuality, Dr. Holmes’ session focused on topics ranging from consent, intimacy, harassment, and abuse, to birth control, STDs, and the effects of the choices students will make surrounding drugs, alcohol, and sex, on their college career path.  She spoke to students about the idea of affirmative consent emphasizing, “the person with the tightest boundaries always wins.”
 
This year, Upper School Administration added an exciting new session to the Transitions to College series – a conversation on personal finance with Lacy Reid, Financial Sales Manager, and Lesley Baker, Premier Relationship Banker, both with First Citizens Bank. Lacy and Lesley shared basic finance skills, including types of accounts, the do’s and don’ts of building credit, and the importance of time in investing. They shared pieces of their own experiences, recommended helpful resources, and answered questions from students.
 
Upper School Director, Wes Clarke, shared that similar to other topics covered during Transitions to College, personal finance was added due to parent feedback and requests from students. He says, “We are grateful for our community members and partners that volunteer their time to provide expertise for this programming, and we hope that in sum, these sessions add to seniors’ self-awareness, confidence, and practical savvy as they launch into their college lives.”
 
Every year, this programming is well-planned by Upper School administration and College Counseling, well-executed by our guest speakers, thoroughly enjoyed by students, and much appreciated by parents. Senior parent, Takesha Sales, calls our Transitions to College programming "one of the best high school graduation experiences" she's ever seen. She says, "Every day leading up to graduation has been something different and useful as they prepare to leave high school. I really appreciate what they're helping to instill in our children." 

The Class of 2022 will soon graduate not only academically prepared through the CCES college-prep curriculum, but also a step closer to being college-ready in a much greater sense of the term.
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Christ Church Episcopal School (“CCES”) admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileged, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at CCES. CCES does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial aid, scholarship or other programs, or athletic or other school-administered programs and activities.