Eagle County students planning the next step | VailDaily.com

Eagle County students planning the next step

Red Canyon High School senior Cristina Villegas with her son, Johan, 9 months old, browse information from the University of Wyoming during last Friday's college fair at Eagle Valley High School.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Colleges are making it easier to apply for both admission and financial aid, say recruiters and prospective students.

For Cristina Villegas, a senior at Red Canyon High School and a single mother, the college application process has been simple.

“I have found that now I have more opportunities after high school. There are many colleges that have daycares on campus, they have single mom groups and scholarships and programs specific to supporting me and my child,” said Villegas.

Villegas is looking at colleges in- and out-of-state, and plans to take her 9-month-old son, Johan, with her.

“I would like to get into social services because I really like working with kids,” she says when asked about what might be next for her and her son.

Villegas seems confident in what college has in store for her and her son. Red Canyon High School has been a huge help, she says, and that has helped her concentrate on classes.

“With this much support already, I feel like it will not be a challenge for me to focus on my studies in college. I know that he is fine and I know the people he is with, which helps. The teachers there also support me,” Villegas said.

Jeremy Sabo, a senior at Eagle Valley High School, hopes to play college basketball and earn an engineering degree.

“You think it’s going to be tough applying to colleges, but it is actually pretty easy,” said Sabo. “I have gotten a lot of support from my counselors. They have signed me up on websites and made sure that I do not miss deadlines.”

Even for students looking for something besides traditional college, the application process seems to be welcoming. Hayden Frye, a senior at Eagle Valley High School, plans to attend the Art Institute in New York.

“Colorado is great, but I would love to get out of here and experience something different,” said Frye, an Eagle Valley senior. “It seems like the colleges have set up the application process pretty easy. The only difficult thing about this process is the fact that you are taking a huge step in your life from high school to college.”

Jan Abbott, a counselor at Battle Mountain High School, believes students should be thinking about college as early as elementary school to make the transition easier.

“Students should visit a college in the first two years of high school and fill out applications before Christmas break,” said Abbott. “My advice for students planning on attending college: take dual enrollment courses to prepare you for college. Dual enrollment classes will challenge you and save thousands of dollars.”

If you’re not headed to college right away, you still need some education, Abbott says. She suggests Colorado Mountain College or other Colorado community colleges for training in fields like culinary, auto, nursing, early childhood education, fire science and others.

“You need to get a head start in this job market. College does not have to be a four-year college,” Abbott said.

A student’s transcripts, letters of recommendation, and scores on the American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT, formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test) will help or hinder a student’s chances of receiving financial aid for college, counselors say.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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