Royce Hooks, from left, Dekaney High School valedictorian and recipient of over $600,000 in scholarship offers, pauses for a congratulatory photo with Dekaney Principal Alonzo Reynolds III.
HOUSTON – June 14, 2018 – Spring ISD graduates have received nearly $75 million in scholarship and grant offers so far this year with the total still growing.
That amount represents a 173 percent increase from last year’s scholarship total of $27 million, thanks to an increased push from principals, college counselors and a new online system to earn and track scholarship dollars known as www.raise.me.
“We are very excited to see this number grow because it speaks to hard work of our students and staff,” said Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, chief of school leadership and support services. “Our graduates are applying to college well-prepared, and these scholarship offers are a good indication of how competitive they are.”
Many students may have received multiple scholarship offers from a variety of different universities, community organizations and corporations. Through Raise.Me, students may earn money for school by getting an A in a class or completing community service requirements.
Hinojosa said the district is also continuing to strengthen its college readiness programs. Over the past three years, the number of Advanced Placement exams taken by students has increased by 20 percent, and the number of dual-credit classes offered have increased by nearly 50 percent. Both of those measures are used by colleges in trying to determine how well-prepared a student might be for postsecondary education.
“Our goal is to get our students thinking about their college goals long before their first day in high school,” Hinojosa said. “That means getting on track early to take those rigorous classes that universities want to see on their transcripts.”
Royce Hooks, Dekaney High School valedictorian, agrees that preparation is key to getting good offers from universities. He estimated he spent about 48 hours total last summer applying for scholarships, which resulted in his being offered over $600,000 in scholarships – several of those were full-ride to highly respected universities.
“I started the summer before my senior year, and I kept applying, kept applying and kept applying,” Hooks said.
Hooks chose to attend Xavier University in Louisiana because of its small size and track record for graduating African American medical doctors, which is Hooks’ career choice, but his applications to multiple universities provided several good options.
“Start focusing on studying for your SAT and ACT,” Hooks advises current students, “because, honestly, that is the easiest way to get scholarships straight from the universities. Study for it, prepare for it, go online and practice problems, do all of that to get your scores high enough so that schools will give you more money.”
In addition, Hooks received a number of smaller scholarships, which he learned about from his college and career counselor, that will help him further his education as well.
Over the past four years, the district has boosted its college counseling capacity by implementing Naviance, a comprehensive K-12 college and career readiness online tool that helps students match their strengths to colleges and universities, and align their interests to future careers.
The district has also invested in enhancing the college readiness centers by increasing the number of computers available so that students may more easily apply to college, submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and scholarship applications, and use Naviance to explore colleges, universities and future careers.
The district continues to engage parents in the college-going process, as well, by hosting college awareness events and providing parents access to Naviance, so that they too may stay connected and have access to resources to assist and support their child’s college readiness.
In addition, just this past spring, the Board of Trustees approved the district’s participation in the EMERGE Fellowship program. That program is designed to prepare high-potential students from underserved communities to attend and graduate from selective colleges and universities across the nation.
On Sunday, four rising Dekaney seniors traveled to Boston as part of the EMERGE Summer College Tour, to visit several universities including Brandeis University, Wellesley College, Wheaton College, Boston University, Harvard University and Tufts University.
Next year, the district plans to send an even larger group of students. “We are very excited about bringing this program to Spring,” Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson said when the program was launched. “EMERGE has a proven track record of getting students into top universities and making sure they have the skills to be successful there.”