By Jazz Paz

Every senior at H.I.S.D.’s Carnegie Vanguard is admitted to college with 95% matriculating to four-year institutions. Every single senior. First generation college bound students from very low-income families. Students with less than exemplary grades. Even uncertain students who are not convinced of the value of higher education are expected to try, and each of them have been accepted at a college or university before they graduate. Some are awarded full scholarships to prestigious institutions; some accept work-study packages and borrow to cover their expenses locally.  Their school counselors and interns faithfully channel these students through the process of determining their destiny. For schools without such devoted on-site advisors private college admissions consultants are happy to help.


Count on spending between $850 – $10,000 with an average hourly rate of $200 for their advice which comes with no guarantee of admittance to your desired institution. For students in-between these circumstances, free help (and sometimes funding) is available to direct your endeavor. Libraries are a good source of information. College admissions offices are full of helpful details. Teachers are often helpful.


Dan Lee is an admissions consultant who believes that some colleges covet  rst-generation college students (those from homes where neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree) so much that they are preferred over more highly prepared students. To demonstrate their preferences these schools offer scholarships to some capable, less well resourced students whose parents lack a bachelor’s degree. He says colleges and universities realize that GPAs and standardized test scores are frequently the result of socioeconomic circumstances, so many institutions review low-income students’ performance through the lens of their individual high schools, not in comparison to the entire applicant pool. Mr. Lee co-founded the Solomon Admissions Consulting Group, and he understands how challenging it is for a student to make themselves outshine their peers in the effort to be chosen by the school of their choice. “Especially for kids who are applying to a lot of the top schools, it’s almost like a part time job.”


Certainly, many kids must feel like a part-time job is necessary just to participate in the college application process, even before paying for the tuition, fees, books, and board needed to continue their education. Registration to sit for the SAT costs $55 (but can be waived for eligible candidates). Application fees to individual colleges can run up to $100 but most Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer a Common Black College Application (CBCA), allowing students to apply for up to   y HBCUs with just a single application and $35.


As you consider your academics beyond high school, there are numerous reasons to remember Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) represent only about 3% of the nation’s four-year nonpro t colleges and universities, but they enroll about 10% of all Black college students. HBCUs award 17% of all bachelor’s degrees earned by black students in the United States. Almost a quarter of all Black graduates with a bachelor’s degree in a STEM  eld are products of HBCUs, according to the United Negro College Fund, and are a major driver of their socioeconomic mobility. An HBCU graduate will likely earn an additional $927,000 over their professional lifetime, 56% more than without their degree or certificate.  There are nine HBCUs in Texas and dozens nationally. Generally, they welcome a greater number of applicants to their schools and are more affordable (by about 28% on average) than non-HBCUs.


Still, you will want to maximize your prospects and minimize your financial obligations by submitting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as the 2024 – 2025 is available, likely by the end of December 2023.  The sooner your completed online application is turned in the better your chances are of a higher financial award. Also, write directly to the institutions you are most interested in attending and explain your needs. Some, particularly HBCUs, will negotiate expenses with serious students.


According to a new Lumina Foundation Gallup 2023 State of Higher Education study, too many Black students attending mostly white schools felt discriminated against, physically and emotionally, some to the degree that they abandoned their college goals.  That’s why Kamala Harris attended Howard University.  e Reverend Martin Lither King, Jr, and Spike Lee are alumni of Morehouse College. Having successful individuals who look like them, whether peers, mentors, or faculty, cause Black students to feel inspired, included, and on a mission that leads them to  flourish. Houston’s own Yolanda Adams and Megan  ee Stallion both advanced from Texas Southern University. Kirko Bangz attended Prairie View A&M.


A well written essay can be the most persuasive way to catch the admission board’s attention. Choose a topic of personal significance and express yourself authentically. Reveal your personality to make the reader want to know you better. Ask a teacher to read it and offer suggestions before turning it in, but do not allow anyone else to write it for you. You are selling your amazing self to your preferred institution; no one can do that as magnificently as you can.


Enlisting an adult (pastor, coach, or supportive non-family member) to write a recommendation on your behalf can also be helpful but consider who you ask. An adult who is very familiar with your challenges and triumphs, your family circumstances and your promise is in a better position to promote you than one teacher who only knows you by your grade in their class.  e Mayor’s O ce of Education (https:// education/college_ planning_help.html) sponsors free college planning student and family workshops including Houston FAFSA which aids students and parents with  filling out the application for  financial aid, and Café College, a one-stop.

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October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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