Talk of the School: Useful but Unused

A Deep Dive into the College Career Resource Center at WHS


Lora Simakova

Wilton High School provides its students with useful resources in regards to college admissions.

Another college admissions cycle is coming to an end. Despite the pandemic and teenagers’ ever-changing plans after high school, college admissions never stop. As high school seniors globally are getting ready to submit their college and university applications, a strong need for guidance emerges–or does it? 

Life after high school is certainly a topic of great interest in the news and social media. Yet, Wilton High School seniors might not be truly taking advantage of the resources provided to guide them through this burdensome, stressful college admissions process.

The need for guidance through their life after high school has long been a topic of nationwide interest, even before the pandemic. An article from American Progress states that, “In 2018, Congress passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the fifth reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act.”

This act was only one of the many efforts for “the federal legislation to increase the quality of and access to career and technical education and encourages states to begin to start pathways programs earlier to lessen inequities.” The implementation of this Act seemed to be a success throughout high schools to implement stronger leading into the most unexpected event of the 21st century: the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic affected teenagers differently around the country. A common trait for American high schoolers can be wrapped into a single word…uncertainty.  At this extremely uncertain time for all students, a survey was conducted in early 2021 with a sample size of 2400 students, according to the New York Times. The results concluded that “one-third said they would attend college closer to home; one-quarter said they would attend a two-year college instead of a four-year institution; 17 percent said they would attend college remotely rather than in person; 16 percent said they would put off attending college. Seven percent said they were no longer planning to attend college.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, it didn’t seem like school districts’ first issue to solve was to facilitate the seniors’ upcoming admissions cycle. Amidst a surge to get education back to normal, or the “new normal” that we are currently living in, schools might’ve slacked off when focusing on college admissions aid. 

For example, school districts may cut or reduce time and resources dedicated to these programs to prioritize core curriculum given the loss of overall instructional time, or school districts may eliminate hands-on workforce training rather than reimagine it in a virtual environment,” writes American Progress. “In the first few months of the pandemic, many states had not yet provided guidance on how to ensure that high school students can complete graduation and other requirements and transition to college, the military, or the workforce.”

In Wilton High School, the college admissions support never stopped. In fact, the College Career Resource Center, located in the guidance hallway of the building, kept working. Current Director of the College Career Resource Center at WHS, Christine Collins, discusses the diligent efforts the center has been putting in.

“It goes back to a counselor named Thomas Maxwell,” Collins said. “He started a college career center with one little two-drawer file cabinet in his office, and it grew from there as our students and community became concerned with post-high school planning.”

As the demand for college career counseling in the school grew, the center moved to a little storage room run by parent volunteers. Collins was one of those parent volunteers.

Throughout the years, more people were hired for the cause. Prior to the common use of the internet, the center would receive boxes after boxes filled with college pamphlets and brochures that colleges would send, according to Collins. Ever since her volunteer position in 1998, Collins has run the College Career Resource Center. Most importantly, she has witnessed the center’s transition from the pre-internet era to digital events such as communication with college representatives and even to fairs and meetings in our current era.

Nevertheless, Collins has concerns regarding the College Career Resource Center at Wilton High School. She claims that the location of the current center is inconvenient for students.

“I just feel that this area [in the guidance hallway] is out of the way for students to ask last minute questions, which is kind of unfortunate,” Collins said. 

This inaccessibility and inconvenience was not always the case.

“Prior to this location, I was down in room 215B, which is now the math workroom. I was in the senior hallway; everybody had to sort of pass my room to go down in the cafeteria, so I used to have students pop into my room to ask me a question,” Collins said.

Collins also suggests that future generations of post-high school planners do more research. Students don’t really appear to be taking the full advantage of this amazing source available to them. Additionally, Collins finds that students are influenced by their parents when deciding where to go.

“It is not your parents’ college anymore,” Collins said. “A lot has changed. A lot has become very competitive.”

However, Wilton High School students seem to be navigating their college application process fine on the more traditional, required aspects of the application process done by the guidance department. Sue Mangan is in charge of sending high school transcripts and guidance counselors’ letters of recommendations to each school that a student applies. She’s a major part of the Senior Workshop, which was put together by counselors to facilitate the students navigation of deadlines.

“From my end, I think that students have felt comfortable emailing me if they have questions,” Mangan said.  “Start early, stay on top of it, and we’re always here to help.”

It seems like despite the lack of use of the College Career Resource Center, Wilton High School students are mostly on top of their application processes. It’s a blessing that we have an excellent College Career Resource Center with amazing resources and an exceptionally friendly director ready to answer questions. What falls on WHS is to take advantage of these marvelous resources and go over any beyond in their post-high school planning, starting as early as possible.