Monday, November 7, 2011

Collegiate Challenge Orientation

First of all
for joining the group of Spring Branch ISD leaders and community members to become mentors to high performing SBISD juniors and seniors. Together in the Collegiate Challenge program, we will shepherd these students through self discovery, career exploration and the twists and turns of the college application and acceptance process.

Mentors and mentees will be under the guidance of Sandra Newton, a volunteer from the College Resource Center, as relationships are built, stories are told, goals are set and achieved.

Weekly meetings will take place on the designated campus for about 1- 1.5 hours. Please check with the Collegiate Challenge coordinator at the campus where you plan to mentor to find out the mentoring times. Please bring a laptop if you have one to maximize the online work that can be accomplished.

As a Collegiate Challenge mentor, your objective is to guide students in realizing their goals. Based on your expertise, personal experiences and your understanding of life skills, we want you to share your knowledge with the mentees. By sharing your own personal experiences--college, professional, or how you got your own child into college-- you will awaken in the mentees' minds different possibilities and scripts for their lives.

Collegiate Challenge students are from all walks of life. For a large number of them, life to this point has been a series of challenges to overcome. They may be the first in their families to graduate from high school, they may be living in the survival mode of poverty, or they may be from a family without a personal connection to the world of college and careers.

Many have no one at home with the knowledge or experience to guide them through the college application process.

For some students who have grown up in poverty, the realization of their poverty situation may be one of hopelessness to move beyond it. Others may not ever have had the opportunity or exposure to even know what is possible. Little modeling may be available to them to understand goal setting, planning for the future or the processes of living that elude them in their circumstances. They may have had little discussion about going to college, and they may not believe it is possible financially or otherwise. Often their family structure has placed them in adult roles since a very early age--caring for younger siblings and assuming responsibility for helping the family by working.

Here is a clip of Sandra Newton describing how she uses her own life experiences to connect with the students and help them realize the importance of a college education:


The Common Application-- used for out-of-state applications
Apply Texas-- used for most in-state universities

19 College Application Essay Tips
Use Active Voice to Strengthen Writing

More resources are available on the Collegiate Challenge website.

Another useful tool FULL of resources and checklists is the "Dream It. Believe It. Achieve It" booklet available on the SBISD website. Click HERE to access it.

In forming a relationship with your mentees, ask them to describe their lives to you--family members, home life, and relationship with their parents and siblings. Find out what their goals are and why they wanted to be part of Collegiate Challenge. These conversations can be the basis of some college and scholarship essays. Students need to tell their stories to admissions and scholarship committees: hurdles overcome, what was learned, and how it will be applied to helping to improve themselves, their families and society.

Then be open to tell them about yourself and why you decided to become a mentor. Establish an open relationship and dialogue so they are free to discuss their fears, hopes and challenges with you. Some of the best essay topics come out of the dialogue that you have with your students early in the mentoring relationship. Listening to their life situations, and sharing your own, will help build those relationships. Here is what Sandra Newton has to say about this:

Absolutely! Their families may be telling them to not be thinking about college because funds are not available, but there are so many ways to pay for college these days. We can help them realize a totally different story! With Sandra Newton's experience and expertise, we will help the Collegiate Challenge students find scholarships, grants and loans to pay for the best colleges that meet their career goals. She also firmly believes in finding schools as far from their home situations as possible to remove them from the pitfalls that could sink them back into the situations they come from.


  • The Collegiate Challenge program is a campus-based mentoring program. Therefore all meetings or activities must take place on the school campus or as part of a school-sponsored activity such as a service project or college visit.
  • Do not ever transport a student in your personal vehicle.
  • Be sure all meetings take place in a room with open visibility.
  • Physical contact should be limited to holding a hand, give a soft pat on the back or sharing a hug in full view of other school officials.
  • With parent permission, you may communicate "electronically" with your mentees using text messaging, phone calls, or email regarding mentoring topics between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. No communication via social networking sites is allowed.
  • All student information should be treated confidentially, and sharing information with other may be a violation of the law. There are certain things you are required by law to share with a campus administrator. They are:
    • If a student confides that he or she is the victim of sexual, emotional, chemical or physical abuse:
    • If a student confides that he or she is is involved in any illegal activity;
    • If a student confides that he or she is considering homicide or suicide.


1. Please register as a volunteer on the SBISD Volunteer site and sign in each time you go to the campus so all volunteer hours can be captured. This will help when grant opportunities become available.

2. Please send a confirming email to let us know you completed this orientation, and are READY to go!!

Thanks Again,

Pat Waldrop ( or
Becky Wuerth (
Collegiate Challenge Mentoring Team