ESL Students Prepare For College

By Amy Feng’ 15 

E.S.L senior students are applying for college like any other general education senior this year. On December 7, 2013 from 10:00 am to 1:00pm, one of several, meetings was held in Midwood’s new library to discuss the process.

“The college application process isn’t that hard, I am actually satisfied with the process; however, it gets confusing at some points, but I get help from my teachers and the college office,” stated Rabia Delshad’14, who wants to major in computer science, in an email.

The college application process WeiXiang Mei’ 14, who is applying to CCMY and Baruch, said,” is difficult, but is important and you have to do it. It is a long process.”

All 18 E.S.L. seniors are applying to college this year. 16 students and two parents came to a meeting on December 7, which was designed for parents of juniors and seniors. The meeting gave hands on experience and advice pertaining to parts of the college application process such as FAFSA, TAP, CUNY admission portal, and the parents’ view of Naviance. This strategy planning meeting also addressed issues that parents and students usually face. The meeting went through the topics like recommendations, autobiographical essays, community service, forms, SAT, SAT subject tests, affordable colleges, financial aid, grants, Perkins, work-study programs and mapping junior and senior year. This meeting was presented by Ms. Teresa Fernandez, foreign language assistant principal. Ms. Veronica Coleman, Mr. Max Pinsky, Ms. Jean-Baptiste and Ms. Elaine Vassell helped translate information and answer questions. A few students and parents stayed after the meeting to discuss their own personal questions.

“I’m very happy and excited about this meeting,” wrote Ms. Fernandez in an email. “Our ESL students asked great questions which shows they are thinking about getting into the right college or university for them and they are making plans to make it there.”

Another meeting on November 4 was held during school hours for juniors and seniors. Ms. Fernandez and Ms. Sharon Kaminer, college office secretary, planned the meeting where over 45 students attended. In this meeting a CUNY admission officer from Baruch College explained the CUNY admission process and the types of CUNY’s available to the students.

On October 3, the first E.S.L. meeting of the school year, was held for parents.

The college process for all students is the same said Ms. Fernandez. “Nope, it is not different, same process, same common app, same recommendations, same deadlines, what happens; maybe the financial aid is a little bit different.”

All three E.S.L. teachers, Mr. Joey Pavone, Ms. Coleman and Mr. Pinsky said E.S.L. students have trouble in reading, writing, and understanding content.

Ms. Fernandez and the three teachers said E.S.L. students tend to have lower averages than general education students and this may be a difficult for the students when applying for schools.

Mr. Pavone, E.S.L. teacher for five years in Midwood, said, “I feel like they are at a big disadvantage, because even if they are good students and they work really hard. It is still difficult for them to leave Midwood with a high average.”

The three teachers and Ms. Fernandez also stated SAT scores for E.S.L. students come out to be on the low side.

Ms. Fernandez said the College Board doesn’t look at whether a student is in E.S.L. or not, “It is the same SAT for everybody.”

Ms. Coleman, E.S.L. teacher for 11 years, said E.S.L. students are still expected to gain 44 high school credit and pass all their regents like any other student even when they are new to the country and don’t know English. General education students are used to hearing the same content repeated over and over again, but at different levels. E.S.L. students do not get this advantage because they arrive to the country and start the material later and need to catch up.

Mr. Pinsky, E.S.L. teacher for three years, said, “The biggest challenge for them I think, is understanding the material, the content areas and that is something we try to support them with.”

Ms. Fernandez said paperwork is another difficulty for E.S.L. students during the application process. Parents of E.S.L. students don’t always want to fill out the paperwork for colleges.

“Parents of E.S.L. students don’t always; they may come from places that are repressive and not very trust worthy of the school wanting their personal information,” said Fernandez.

Some students in E.S.L. may not have computers at home, so the school provides them with computer in room 421 and E.S.L. office.

Ms. Coleman stated that she gets asked by 15 to 20 students in the beginning of the year for recommendations. She makes sure to highlight in their recommendation the improvements they made over the years, how the student acted and what they did to overcome obstacles.

Mr. Pavone said he does a few recommendations for students, and when he does make recommendations he includes how they acted in class and stories of the student.

Both teachers said they always try to draw attention to fact that the students were in E.S.L. in recommendations to show the hardships the students faced like trying to learn a new language.

E.S.L students usually get into two year CUNY stated Ms. Fernandez.

“It is usually 2 year CUNYS, because they have an average that is not always as high as it should be for a 4 year CUNY, but they do their two years and move onto another 2 years,” said Ms. Fernandez.

However, E.S.L. students get the advantages of taking the regents in their native languages and using dictionaries for state exams. Former E.S.L. students get these advantages also, in the first two years after they test out of E.S.L.

Midwood has had E.S.L students make it to Brooklyn College and other four year CUNYS and SUNYS.

Almost half of the students in Midwood were at one point in their lives ESL said Ms. Fernandez. “I think I do have a good chance of getting into a good college,”. Delshad ’14 said, “I don’t think I am less than anyone else just because I’m in E.S.L.”

Ms. Coleman said E.S.L. students should be a proud to be in E.S.L. and not hide the fact that they are in E.S.L.

Miss Delshad’14 wrote, “I am really excited for college, but at the same time I feel sad because of leaving, well, Midwood High school, where I had my best years.”

“Always do your very best because it might be very hard, especially in the beginning,” said Ms. Fernandez. ”The transition from high school to college is very difficult. Don’t give up second semester is always much better.”

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