Home' Nonahood News : NONA 100116 Contents LNHS COLLEGE AND CAREER CENTER ASSIGNS DIRECTOR
“You are close to the finish line; but you are not
there yet.” Speaking to a group of high school seniors
and their parents, Paul Browning, Assistant Principal
for Curriculum and Instruction at Lake Nona High
School (LNHS), challenged students to focus on fin-
ishing the race and preparing for what comes next af-
ter graduation. To help them in that process, Orange
County Public Schools created a full-time position at
LNHS to oversee the College and Career Center and
hired Maxima Harmon to be the first director. Al-
though the center has always been there, in the past it
has been staffed by parent volunteers while guidance
counselors posted scholarships to the website and Dr.
Joseph (College Transition Counselor) would come to
the campus every Monday.
This year, Lake Nona High School has its largest
number of seniors at 649, and with average gradua-
tion rates of 95-96%, there is a lot of work to be done.
LNHS’s commitment to the post-graduation success of
every student is seen in the commitment to the Col-
lege and Career Center. Mrs. Harmon’s goal is that
every student should have a post-graduation plan.
She tells students that once they cross that stage at
graduation, the very next day society will expect you
to be an adult and have a plan, whether that is col-
lege, career, the military or a trade school. The choice
is individual, as long as you have a plan.
Mrs. Harmon describes the College and Career
Center as a full-service department designed to
help students have the tools to be successful post-
high school. If students feel college is not an option
for them due to lack of financial resources, she can
help. She also helps students research areas of study
or schools with certain programs. She also has been
scheduling college visits to LNHS, and so far this fall
LNHS has held visits with the University of Florida,
Hofstra University, New Jersey Institute of Technol-
ogy, Johnson & Wales University, Full Sail University,
Florida Atlantic University, University of Tennessee-
Knoxville, Keiser University, and Valencia College. At
this time, college visits are open only to seniors.
She also believes it is important to take a person-
al approach with the students and has initially been
meeting with them as groups in their English classes
as well as setting up appointments to meet with them
one-on-one. She is passionate about her work, and her
urgency is not meant to scare students in any way but
rather to get them to understand that time will pass by
very quickly in their senior year. Many students have
not even given college a thought because they feel it
is not financially an option for them; however, there
are lots of scholarship opportunities that go unused
every year. The center hopes to increase the number
of scholarship and college applications, particularly
to see the top students applying to Ivy League and top
20 schools, where there also are many opportunities
available. For example, if a family makes $125,000 or
less and the student can get into Yale, Yale will pay
for their education. Another opportunity is through
QuestBridge, where a family of four making $65,000
or less can go to great universities across the country
free or at a super-reduced price. The key is to get ap-
plications in early and to make sure they are quality.
Here are the key steps recommended for seniors:
Create an FSA ID. https://fsaid.ed.gov.
Review the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal
Student Aid) worksheet on Google Classroom so you
can start getting documentation in order. FAFSA for
2017-2018 will open on October 1.
Sign up for the next ACT/SAT you can take.
LNHS will give students a free SAT on October 19.
(Also, if students are on free or reduced lunch, they
are eligible for one free ACT and two free SATs.) Stu-
dents should prepare by taking sample tests, and
study assistance is available through Kahn Academy.
ACT information is available at www.actstudent.org
and SAT at www.collegeboard.org.
Start researching colleges and universities.
Sign up for text alerts from Mrs. Harmon about upcom-
ing college visits to LNHS (text @mrsmharmo to the
number 81010). All students should also sign up for the
Google Classroom site Lake Nona HS is College Ready
with the code 05gkvu9. She recommends that students
participate in many of the college visits, not just the
ones they already think they are interested in attending,
because it gives them valuable experience interacting
with college personnel and also might bring awareness
of scholarship opportunities.
Get the best grades you can this year. You will need
to send final transcripts to the college/university you
will be attending. It also will help with scholarships
and class rank.
Get involved! Join clubs and organizations and/
or get a job.
Earn, keep track of, and turn in Community
Service hours (need 75 hours for Florida Medallion
Scholars/100 hours for Florida Academic Scholars).
See VolunteerFlorida.org to find volunteer options in
Clean up your social media. Coaches and college
personnel do look at them. Make sure what you post
is the best possible representation of you.
Students and parents can connect with Mrs. Har-
mon in Room 802 and by email at maxima.harmon@
ocps.net. She is available for appointments during the
day, and the College and Career Room is open during
both lunches and after school until 2:30 on Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thurs-
days, it is open after school until 3:30.
Preparing for the next step is a complicated pro-
cess, but Mrs. Harmon is there to help every step of
the way. She wants students to feel comfortable com-
ing in and sitting down to have a conversation and
to start dreaming about what opportunities may in-
deed be in their future. She wants to take the fear out
of the college process, the cost of college, and even
the challenge of going out of state. She is able to be
a neutral party as students weigh their options. She
also speaks to the students from personal experience.
Not only has she been through the process with her
two daughters, but from her own personal experi-
ence having been born in Panama and growing up
in Cuba/Guantanamo, she and her sisters all came to
the United States for college, and she actually ended
up at college in Radford, Virginia. She arrived at col-
lege the first day not kno ing anyone, and going to a
small town she experienced a lot of culture shock. So
she can relate to students on many levels.
As she is new in her position, her priority right
now is with the current seniors (including area ho-
meschool seniors). However, the goal is to get students
thinking about college early, when they are first ar-
riving at high school. A great site is https://www.raise.
me/, where students will enter everything they do dur-
ing high school and can build a portfolio that will get
reviewed by colleges who participate in the website. In
the future, she hopes to have career fairs and will put
out a call for community and parent volunteers. There
also are opportunities to volunteer at the center.
One final piece of advice for seniors – the senior
year is not the time to check out. Colleges still monitor
grades even after acceptance, so finish strong!
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26 OCTOBER 2016
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