AccessSTEM Student Learning Community Tackles the College Application Process

Penny Hinke, DO-IT Staff

Fred Wang has a dream. He wants to transfer to the University of Washington and graduate with a major in computer science. Fred is not alone. The University of Washington Admissions Office expects to receive over 26,000 applications this year. But Fred, who is a student at Bellevue College and a member of DO-IT's AccessSTEM project, is determined to turn his dream into reality, which is why he jumped at the opportunity to participate in the AccessSTEM Student Learning Community (SLC), Conquering the College Application Process, offered by DO-IT at Bellevue College this past fall.

An SLC is is a collection of activities organized by common goals that a group of students complete together. Six AccessSTEM members from Bellevue College took part in DO-IT's SLC, which met weekly from October 17th to November 14th.

The SLC, which Tami Tidwell and I co-taught, was designed to help students planning on transferring to a four-year institution better understand the college application process and develop strategies for making a successful application to their chosen university. We focused on five key areas: getting started, getting organized, narrowing the choice, writing a strong personal statement and finding the funding. Students were given strategies, resources, and tools to help them navigate and track what can be an overwhelming process. They were also required to attend at least one event at Bellevue College's Fall Transfer Fair Week.

Some of the things students said they'd learned as a result of the SLC included:

  • knowing myself better (from taking the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator Assessment)
  • looking up the projected future for the job I want
  • knowing what my priorities are
  • admission deadlines for colleges that I am interested in
  • learning how to apply to different colleges
  • looking for scholarships
  • writing a better personal statement

For many of the students, writing a personal statement was a daunting hurdle to overcome. Justin Mays, who will be receiving his transfer Associate in Science Track 2 degree from Bellevue College in June, was motivated by the SLC to tackle the task. By early February, he had written a strong personal statement and applied to two universities, including the UW. He said, "having someone else go over my personal statement was a big help. Thank you!"