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Future College Students Prepare at Bootcamp

80+ rising seniors get a head start on exploring and applying to college

Five Days. Eighty-plus City Schools students. One goal: begin senior year of high school prepared to find, apply, afford, and ultimately attend college. 

In mid-August, rising seniors from 17 different schools got a jump start on their college exploration process at City Schools’ 2nd Annual College Bootcamp. The immersive experience introduced the students to every aspect of getting to college and helped them complete the initial steps in their path toward higher education.

“Students who apply earlier to college have greater opportunity to be accepted, to have choice in their selection, and to access financial aid,” explained Tracy Kyttle, City Schools’ District Manager of Postsecondary Advising. “We’re trying to shift the culture around post-secondary planning to earlier in the year. This Bootcamp helped do that.” 

Students spent five days at the University of Baltimore researching different types of schools, considering what type of academic and living environments they best learn, and discovering what it takes to prepare a compelling college application. They had lots of questions - and City Schools graduates had lots of answers for them about their experiences and what to expect. 

In one workshop, students learned how to best request letters of recommendation and their current transcripts. In the “Securing the Bag” workshop, they analyzed financial aid award letters and spreadsheets that compared financial packages. In the “GPA Game,” students were assigned achievements and challenged to identify the best opportunity they could - considering all factors and resources at their disposal. 

Said Towan Cooper, Postsecondary Advisor at Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts, "Summer Bootcamp provided students as well as newly appointed Postsecondary Advisors with the tools to make the college application process as seamless as possible. The district is taking a hands-on approach to assure that the students of Baltimore City are prepared for college, career, and beyond."

The Bootcamp was about more than learning; it was also about doing! During the five days, students created their ID’s for Federal Student Aid (FSA) and their Naviance accounts, the online system used to submit and track college applications. They began writing their college essays with guidance about what might make them stand out and illustrate their promise. Students on college tour

At the end of the week, students visited Lincoln University, exploring academic facilities, campus life, and extracurricular opportunities. These trips provided valuable context and perspective for what they had just learned and for their journeys ahead.

If student feedback is any indication, students had fun and learned a ton! Check out some of what students had to say: 

  • “I love how college students talked to us about their experiences, I had fun hearing their responses and asking questions. I loved all the new info I learned about my gpa, how different admission counselors look at our transcript and essay. This bootcamp relieved some things I was worrying about in the college application.”
  • Everyone was comfortable enough to share their personal life experience.”
  • “I love the support we got from the staff! We were focused and able to really get helpful information.” 
  • “I loved college boot camp! It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about applying for college and when is a good time to apply for college.”

Said Kyttle, “We want to empower students to make choices, to have autonomy over the direction of their lives. Whether their goals include college or career, we’re here to help.”

To learn more about City Schools’ college prep work, visit

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