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Gainesville High brings college application process to seniors
“I applied” buttons sit on a table outside of a computer lab at Gainesville High School as seniors fill out applications for college Wednesday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Nearly all of Gainesville High School’s 208 seniors applied to college Wednesday.

Many applied online to four-year universities while others applied to two-year or technical colleges as part of the state’s pilot program "Apply On-line."

Gainesville High School was one of eight high schools across the state chosen to participate in the pilot program that aims to provide high school seniors more assistance in the college application process.

Kay Holleman, head counselor at Gainesville High School, said every senior at school Wednesday applied to at least one type of school, whichever appeared to be their "best post-secondary option."

Seventeen Georgia colleges, including Brenau University, Gainesville State College, North Georgia College & State University and Lanier Technical College, had representatives at the college fair to guide students through the schools’ online application processes and to answer students’ questions. Representatives from the Georgia Finance
Commission were also on hand to answer questions and provide information on financial aid, HOPE scholarships and Pell grants.

Holleman said many Georgia schools waived online application fees Wednesday as students applied from their schools’ computer labs.

"Last year, 80 percent of our students went to four-year or two-year technical schools. My question was, ‘What happened with our other 20 percent?’" Holleman said.

The 20 percent of students who weren’t college bound upon exiting the doors of Gainesville High School is what pushed Holleman to request Gainesville High be included in the state’s first online college application program.

"If we can get (students) to apply and find out about programs ... then they will have a better chance for them to go to school than if they were left on their own," she said. "I think it will turn kids around. Because the kids wanted to apply, but they didn’t know exactly how to do it."

Holleman said most seniors applied to about three different colleges Wednesday.

Audily Beltran, a Gainesville High School senior, said neither of her parents went to college, but her future might be different.

"In my four years in high school, I’ve never thought about going to college," Beltran said. "I had a chance here to apply, and I didn’t really have another choice. And since I had the chance, maybe I should just take advantage of it."

Beltran said she applied to Gainesville State College Wednesday. Since her parents haven’t been through the college application process, she said she had a lot of questions for the college representatives.

"I think that there are students like me that now that they’ve had the opportunity to apply online and talk to these people ... they’re in a position to go (to college)," she said. "Maybe now they’ll at least try to go."