The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The College Access Program provides opportunities for all students

Kailyn Holty
With the College Access Program, students don’t have to study on their own as CAP provides free tutoring services.

SAT prep, half-written college essays, and financial aid forms litter most high school seniors’ desks as they slog through the college application process on their own. But it doesn’t have to be that way with Woodside’s College Access Program (CAP)

The College Access Program (CAP) launched in the fall of 2022 as a part of WHS Foundation’s 2023 Fund-a-Need program. This provided three years of funding for CAP, until the 2024-25 school year. Utilizing over $500,000 in donations, CAP provides college campus tours, test prep, college essay coaching, and career explorations for free to all students. 

“We just wanted to ask the Foundation, can we give more access to more students at Woodside?” Principal Karen van Putten said. “By us taking away the barrier or removing any of the financial constraints, we’re hoping to get more students to take advantage of the test prep and the college essay prep.” 

This year, CAP has added additional outside support programs such as AJ Tutoring and ObiCoach for help in the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and college essay writing, respectively. Increased funding from the Foundation has further provided a third college counselor, Francisco Jose Gil. 

“[Mr. Gil’s] going to take on the role of what I’ve been doing as the liaison to the Foundation [to communicate funding needs] for CAP,” van Putten said. “He’s going to post the dates for future workshops, nudge kids [to not] forget [about] workshops [they’ve] committed to, and help to organize career speaker pieces.”

Despite many colleges going test blind, or not considering submitted test scores in students’ applications, high SAT and ACT scores can still increase student’s likelihood of qualifying for many merit scholarships.  

“Many of our students are eligible for some big scholarships, but they don’t even apply for them,” van Putten “So if we can provide that service of giving them confidence and crafting a really good scholarship essay, that can turn into big financial benefits.” 

The continuous improvement by CAP has helped seniors such as Ava Lew find one-on-one support to ensure she remains on track during the college application process. For Lew, support comes from Woodside’s continuous partnership with the Boys and Girls Club and the Future Grads program.  

“Future Grads is a program for students to have help graduating from high school and also applying to college,” Lew said. 

The Future Grads program serves 300 students across the peninsula with help in applications, financial aid, and college selection. Most students who receive support are low-income, first generation-college students who begin Future Grads in 10th grade and continue through college graduation. 

“We have leaders who are actual adults that lead us through what we need to get done for our applications, [such as] deadlines and scholarships, which is really helpful,” Lew said. “Everyone has an individual meeting with their leader. You meet one-on-one instead of in a big group, so they focus on your needs.”

Similarly to Future Grads, the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program provides college readiness and career exploration through teaching academic skills for success such as organization, planning, and note-taking. 

“It’s a very good program that I’m very happy to be part of,” junior Arthur Renard said. “There’s just a sense of belonging. You have a different relationship with [the AVID teachers] than all your other teachers, so you’re able to get along with them better. It’s a very friendly and communal space.”

AVID provides students with the unique opportunity of college visits to California schools. While there are some trips just for AVID students, CAP offers every student the opportunity to visit colleges on a first-come-first-serve basis.

“The other piece of college access was college visits,” van Putten said. “So [we offer] Northern [and Southern] California overnight and local bus trips. We’re [trying] to beef up what we’ve traditionally been able to do, which was give all freshmen a college visit. But what we realized post-COVID was [we had] two grades of students who just never got a college visit.”

Renard attended the UC Merced, CSU Stanislaus, UC Davis, and Sonoma State college trips in mid-February 2023. For Renard, the college visits allowed him to explore majors and career paths in his interest areas: finance and math. 

“That was a really cool experience because it was the first time I’ve actually toured a college,” Renard said. “So I’d definitely say that was a really cool aspect [of AVID], especially because UC Davis, I’d heard so much about.” 

Van Putten hopes to build upon the previous years of success with CAP by implementing TEDx-style career exploration conferences as well as shadowing programs for Woodside students to get firsthand experience with careers they’re interested in. 

“We want to expose as many grade levels and as many students to all these different careers because oftentimes kids don’t even know that’s a job,” van Putten said. “I think we have a lot of connections in our community. So we want to get the word out and try to make it a really attractive and high-interest evening opportunity.”

At the end of the day, CAP hopes to provide all students with the tools needed to succeed after high school without worrying about financial limitations. 

“A big thing is taking away the financial constraints, because for me in high school, my parents would never have considered funding an ACT or SAT workshop,” van Putten said. “We just didn’t have the funds for that… And many of our kids do it on their own…But we just want to give all kids even more of an edge.”

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About the Contributor
Kailyn Holty, Co-Editor in Chief
Kailyn Holty is a junior and third-year journalist. She enjoys writing about campus life, current events, and cultural pieces. She hopes to raise awareness of student issues through her writing. In her free time, she likes playing tennis, hiking, completing jigsaw puzzles, and reading.

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