Get Schooled: HRA Introduces College Application Boot Camp

August 31st, 2012 by Amber Lester


It is a rite of passage that every fall, high school seniors juggle the pressure to get good grades, take a last pass at the SATs and begin the anxiety-ridden college application process.

But Hampton Roads Academy college counselor Ben Rous decided it doesn’t have to be that way, and devised a plan to remove some of the stress from college applications. This August, he introduced College Counseling Boot Camp, which invited HRA seniors to two six-hour sessions where they started the process of filling out online college applications, updating their resumes and writing admissions essays.

The idea was “something I’ve been kicking around for a while,” Rous said, and when his fellow college counselor decided not to return this year, he suddenly inherited an entire class of seniors to advise. It seemed like the perfect time to try the boot camp approach.

“The goal is to get the kids engaged in the mechanics of the college application,” Rous said. “Some kids have no clue what they’re doing, and they sabotage themselves. The process is filled with anxiety and most of it has nothing to do with the application itself; it all has to do with the life change that’s about to happen. This was to try to dial that nervous energy down.”

I remember all too well exactly what Rous is talking about. I recall sitting down to write college admissions essays in the fall, reading the essay prompts from some of the more selective schools and immediately feeling intimidated. It’s hard enough to craft the perfect essay, but it’s extra difficult when you’re trying to focus on getting good grades, participating in campus activities and preparing to retake college entrance exams. All of that, plus teenage hormones that make every decision feel like life or death!

At the boot camp, Rous walked 62 of HRA’s 74 seniors through the process of setting up online accounts (with consistent user names and passwords that won’t be forgotten), filling out application forms and starting the essay prompts. None of the students actually applied to schools, but now they’ll have time to fine-tune their submissions over the next semester. Taking time to do it right is especially important at HRA, which boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate for its graduates.

“It gives the kids confidence in the process, but also, they can move ahead with senior year essentially having all of their applications in the can,” Rous said. “When it is time to submit, then it’s not a matter of needing to do the application…it’s a matter of clicking ‘send.’”

The response from students and parents was universally positive, Rous said, adding that it gives parents a way to feel their child is on the right track. “They can actually look at it, and they’re so excited to see something concrete,” he said.

Aeronautics Educational Foundation Planning Fundraiser

The Youth Aeronautics Educational Foundation will host a picnic fundraiser on Sept. 22.

The fundraiser will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Middle Peninsula Regional Airport in Mattaponi. Attendees can enjoy free intro flights and refreshments, including $1 hot dogs.

For more information about the program, call (757) 369-5004 or email

Special Homeschool Admission to JYF Museums



An interpreter at Jamestown Settlement shows a visitor how to tie a knot.

Homeschool families can visit Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center for special programming with a ticket available from Sept. 8-23.


Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center homeschool programs coincide with CW’s “Homeschool Experience.”

The special ticket, which costs $10.50 per family member in advance and $11 starting Sept. 1, provides unlimited admission to both museums from Sept. 8-23. The ticket also gives an opportunity to pre-register for optional hands-on classroom programs and family guided tours of the museum’s outdoor living history areas.

Homeschool families also can participate in colonial games from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 15 and 22 at Jamestown Settlement and Sept. 16 and 23 at the Yorktown Victory Center. Children age three and under receive complimentary admission.

Classroom programs last one hour. Based on space availability, students can enroll in one of four programs at each museum, according to grade level from preschool to 12th grade.

The deadline to register for hands-on classroom programs and guided tours is 5 p.m. three business days prior to the program or tour. Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center homeschool programs are offered twice a year, and the next session will be held on February 16-24, 2013. For more information about the Foundation’s homeschool programs or to register, contact Group Reservations at (757) 253-4939 or toll-free (888) 868-7593, or click here.

CW Electronic Field Trip Free in September

Colonial Williamsburg will provide access to its electronic field trip, “The Will of the People,” for free for the month of September.

“The Will of the People” examines the presidential election of 1800, one of the most bitter in U.S. History. In it, Thomas Jefferson explains how negative campaigning, partisan politics and contested elections have always been part of the U.S. political system.

Any school, homeschool family or individual will have free access to the streaming electronic field trip video, teacher guide and student Web activities. To register, click here.

After September, “The Will of the People” will be available for $120 per school as part of Colonial Williamsburg’s 2012 – 2013 Electronic Field Trip Series. Registration for the complimentary program is open now through the month of September.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Electronic Field Trips tell the stories of the country’s founding and span a broad range of historical subjects from colonial times to the present. These distance learning programs, written and produced by Colonial Williamsburg, are created especially for grades 4–8 and are broadcast one Thursday each month from October through April at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern time on participating public television stations and cable channels across the country.

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