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STARs On Campus

Pricila Gomez, Staff Writer, News Editor

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It’s rush week. The fraternities and sororities are scrambling to recruit students to for their Greek organizations. I am a junior. And I’m walking through the farmer’s market smell the sweet scent from strawberries is amongst all of us amidst all the excitement and chaos. As we roamed around the campus of UC Santa Cruz, you could feel people were starting to make up their minds of where they wanted to go. As I saw a small, bright yellow banana slug wander among the rocks, I knew that UC Santa Cruz could be a possible choice for me.


The junior road trip is a field trip that last for five days and four nights. This trip is exclusively for junior AVID students. During these five days, the students explore colleges up north and make note of which colleges they are interested in so that they can apply to them that following fall.


“I know that the road trip really helped me make up my mind. I mean I had seen UC Berkeley’s tower from photos online, but actually seeing it was completely different,” says Daniel Alba, senior. “The trip really convinced me that that was the school I wanted to attend.”


The STAR program is a program for non-AVID student that are eligible to attend a four-year college. The STAR program takes students of all kind from regular students to students taking AP classes to students from the Top Ten. As long as they are students who are A-G eligible and want to attend a four-year university. This college ready group is similar to AVID without the extra elective class.


“The STAR program’s goal is to assist college ready students with SAT, college applications, and open up their eyes to higher level education,” says Ms. James, guidance assistant. “We offer field trips, scholarships, extra assistants when it comes to college applications, and first priority during SAT registration.”


Because the school is a nationally demonstrated AVID school, the school tends to emphasize the AVID program. The AVID program is to MVHS as what the Eiffel Tower is to France, the school is well-known for it.


Natalie Flores, sophomore, recalls the first time she was invited to a college field trip to UC San Diego. She explains that she just assumed she was on her own when it came to college applications, financial aid, and other responsibilities. That’s until she encountered the STAR program.


“Well it was my first time being invited to anything with the STAR program so I can’t really say much about it since I didn’t even know the program existed until I got invited,” says Flores.


Some criticize the program for not offering as many college field trips as some of the AVID classes.


“AVID gets a lot of field trips and that junior road trip really helps a lot of those people decide what school to go to,” said Elizabeth Gomez, sophomore. “The colleges up north are basically an unknown to us non-AVID students. And the possibility of us ever visiting there is highly unlikely.”


It is important to realize that not everyone is in AVID and that students not in the program need opportunities to explore school outside of southern California because subconsciously the school gets the message across, which is- if you’re not in AVID, you’re not going to college. Luckily, the STAR program gives somewhat similar opportunities to their students that many of the AVID students get. But like all programs, there is always room for improvement.


“They should make the school trips a little more organized, as in maybe having groups of people showing [the students] around and meeting up with everyone at the end or have tour guides,” says Natalie Flores, sophomore. “If there’s huge groups of students, some kids are just not going to pay attention, stay unfocused, or mess around.”


She goes on to describe the scene of what occurred at UC San Diego, describing that she was excited for the trip, but was ultimately disappointed at the little amount of time they stayed at the school.


“An hour isn’t enough,” Flores says as she laughs. “They only showed us the library, dorms, and some artwork.”


Ms. James believes that both the students and counselors have to work together more in order to make the program more successful.


“We need more participation because it’s hard for us to reach the students out there and on our part, we need to spread the word more,” she says.


Whether the STAR Program gives opportunities to non-Avid students is up for discussion. However, Angelica Alvarez, senior, thinks that the program has made applying for college a lot smoother.


“I think there is because Ms. James calls us up and she keeps us updated with colleges. She helps a lot.” says Alvarez.


Alvarez believes that the programs has really helped with making the decision on which college easier because they look at the different advantages offered at each school.


“I had UC Irvine in mind and she kept telling me to go to UC Riverside and she was telling me about financial aid.” she says. “Eventually she came to my side and I decided to go to Irvine because hey gave me the most financial aid.”


The program is still small, but has shown significant results and continues to pave the way for many college bound students.  


“It is a great up and coming program and hopefully we can spread the awareness of the A-G requirements,” says Ms. James.


The Star Program started with approximately 150 senior STAR students and about eighty percent were accepted to at least one four-year university.


“I think it is important to know that you can still go into college if you’re not in AVID, as long as you continue to talk to your counselor,” says Alvarez.


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STARs On Campus