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Meyer takes enthusiastic approach to post-high school planning

By Megan Martin

Meyer joined AHS this year as the College and Career specialist. Photo by Aleeza Zinn
Meyer joined AHS this year as the College and Career specialist.
Photo by Aleeza Zinn

The College and Career Center (CCC) is a resource for all students to learn about life after high school, whatever that might entail. Gwen Meyer has come on staff as the new college and career counselor this school year.

Meyer began as the College and Career counselor at Encinal High School, and has since transferred to Alameda High after a short break because she “missed working with high school students.” Meyer believes that being the counselor in the CCC is the “best job at AHS,” but it has been underutilized for the past few years. She is being exposed to the Alameda High community largely through word of mouth because she is not yet an institutional person. Through keeping an open door,  Meyer hopes to build up the credibility of the CCC so hopefully all students will learn to trust her and take advantage of all that she can offer.

Senior Kyle Alves, who has sought help from Meyer, states that she is “literally the best person you will ever meet.”  She really showcases all of the resources available and “opened my eyes to more options,” said Alves.

A lot of people are first exposed to the CCC when they are underclassmen, possibly going there for counselor presentations about A-G requirements, or going to talk to college presenters who come to campus, or to ask for a work permit. She hopes that students get introduced as underclassmen to life after high school and how to build a plan.

Meyer offers a lot of resources that are not being taken advantage at the moment. In addition to showcasing smaller schools that students probably have not heard of, she has a long list of scholarships that any student could apply for to ease the financial burden that comes with a college education. In regards to helping underclassmen, she has compiled a list of summer opportunities to apply for in order to build their college application. All of this information can be found on school loop under the CCC tab.  

She hopes to direct students there as a “one stop shop” so they can get a general understanding of what they searched for, then the can come to her for the “extra gooey details.”  

In the fall, the bulk of Meyer’s attention is on seniors. She participates in the presentations college representatives give, looks at transcripts, and gives advice on colleges seniors might be interested in as well as make sure they have a balance of reach and safety schools. Meyer also has read applications for UC Berkeley, so she gives feedback on college applications from an admissions officer’s point of view.

Meyer says that the hardest part is trying to gently push kids to be realistic, and to be the voice of reason in regards to their college choices. “I know what it feels like to not get into your first and second choice.  It is devastating in April when you have your best friend so happy and you, on the other hand, feel like crap,” said Meyer.  She believes in applying to your dream school, and recognizes the amount of pressure modern students have on them.

Meyer realizes that “some of it is internal, some of it is external,” and that students are in a very difficult situation right now, so she wants to be as helpful as she possibly can.

“She really makes you step out of your comfort zone, and I think a lot of people need that,” said Alves. He adds that people who do not want to challenge themselves just need that “extra little push” that Meyer will give.  

Meyer feels that one of the most common misconceptions about the college admissions process is that “once you submit your application you are done and there is nothing else you have to do.”  Applying to college is like “running a marathon”, and seniors have to do all the “extra stuff” on top of the fact that they might be looking for scholarships. “We are at mile 10 when you submit,” said Meyer.

One of the biggest challenges Meyer is facing working at a large school is that the quieter kids might not come in and ask for help.  She worries that the first generation kids and the kids without a support system at home will be left in the dust regarding college applications. Meyer hopes that they will see her as a resource and will take advantage of her expertise.

“I want to help. Let me take you on the marathon,” said Meyer.

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