College and Career Writing Mentorship
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona - High School English Language Arts Teacher
Mentorship is key! College enrollment at the national level continues to decline. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, total college registration in spring, 2019 decreased 1.7% (or about 300,00 students) from the previous spring. For 8 years in a row, college enrollment has declined. With the decline in enrollment comes the steady increase of minority populations in many states in the United States. U.S Census projections, researchers and scholars alike agree that the current minority population growth is once again in an unprecedented increase rate and will result in a total population shift before or by mid-century. An intentionally-focused college and career mentorship program will help increase college enrollment, particularly in minority students.
The minority population in Florida continues to rise each year. There are more than 1,000,000 Puerto Ricans in Central Florida alone. With the current political debacle and economic mayhem in Puerto Rico, the numbers are going to continue to increase every year. Venezuela’s crisis has also translated into a growing ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages: this is how they are called in Florida) student population that has registered in public schools in the Central Florida schools in record numbers. The same demographic shift is occurring in other states with large ESL student populations as well.
Furthermore, ESOL students do not necessarily come equipped with college and career readiness skills required to be college and career ready. With Bilingual Education programs completely non-existent, much of the educational strategies to engage ESOL students are contingent on local initiatives. The United States Department of Education was never prepared for the current shift in school demographics.
With an intentionally focused program, more ESOL students will develop college and career readiness skills and ultimately enroll in college and pursue a degree; a writing mentorship program will engage and empower high school students (primarily seniors) to increase competence in writing and prepare them to write winning scholarship essays. The goal is to help students become college and career ready through a writing mentorship program that will include college students who have recently written winning scholarship essays.
Some will say that a program like this will take away the individual challenge that a scholarship essay prompt provides to high school seniors who write them on their own. The advantage is always on the side of the native-like speaker, especially when the revision and proofreading of these essays will occur from those who master the skills required in the prompt. An ESOL student is less likely to have someone who has the skills to revise and proofread the essay. Mentorship is key! And a mentorship program with a specific focus on writing scholarship essays will facilitate the process for many ESOL high school graduates and will level the playing field with equal college and career opportunities for all students.