‘Rural is the new diversity’

College hopefuls hear from admissions expert at Elizabeth High

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 9/23/19

Dozens of Elbert County high school students and their parents learned about what it takes to get into college, and minimize debt, during a free seminar on Sept. 18 delivered by college admissions …

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‘Rural is the new diversity’

College hopefuls hear from admissions expert at Elizabeth High

Posted

Dozens of Elbert County high school students and their parents learned about what it takes to get into college, and minimize debt, during a free seminar on Sept. 18 delivered by college admissions expert Dr. Mark Montgomery at Elizabeth High School. Montgomery is a former associate dean at the University of Denver, and the CEO and founder of Great College Advice, which advises students and their families through the college preparation, selection and application process.

During his lecture, Montgomery informed attendees that colleges are businesses, and want three things from their applicants — money, prestige in their rankings and diversity within their student body.

“And guess what? Rural is the new diversity,” said Montgomery. “This is your time, folks!”

Montgomery encouraged students to dream big but make a plan — including learning how to study — be willing to work hard, and take advantage of all the resources available while still in high school, including courses that can be taken free of charge in high school, rather than paying for them in college.

While Montgomery gave tips about getting into college, he also questioned students about why they wanted to go to college.

“To get an education.”

“So we can learn to live in life.”

“I want to understand how the world works,” were some of the answers.

“A UCLA study shows that 72.6% of students asked said they wanted to go to college to get a better job, 83.6% said they wanted to learn more about things that interest them,” said Montgomery. “They want a better job, but they also want purpose.”

The average student loan debt, according to Montgomery, is $29,850, totaling nearly $1.5 trillion nationally, and he said being wise about managing your debt is vital in being successful when finishing college. Vocational programs, apprenticeships, on-the-job training and utilizing your local community college were options Montgomery presented to the crowd.

“There are many different ways to educate yourself,” he said. “Colorado public schools can be the least expensive, but some out-of-state schools, especially private schools, could be cheapest. And, in Colorado, you have a guaranteed transfer from a community college to a four-year university.”

Gabby Wagner, a senior at Elizabeth High, attended the seminar hoping for some direction when she leaves high school.

“I’ve been kind of a lost Lucy in high school,” said Wagner. I have a lot of interests, and Dr. Montgomery helps kids look into themselves and find their strengths.”

Ian Armstrong, also a senior, said he has already visited the top five colleges of his choice, and was looking for more insight about applications, test scores and writing persuasive essays for college admissions.

“I want to learn my best options to apply,” said Armstrong. “I hope to go into medicine, but it’s really hard to manage time for all the applications and essays.”

Leanne Cook, post-secondary specialist at Elizabeth High, helps students explore their options after high school.

“We talk to kids about what they want to do as far as education after they graduate, but what we should ask them is what they want to do in life,” said Cook.

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