The high school class about college impacts teens - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

The high school class about college impacts teens' lives in rural Appalachia

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We visited the "Journeys" class at Wellston High School, where students were finalizing their college applications before the November 1st early acceptance deadline.

"Ohio University... Shawnee State... Bowling Green State University."

An excited senior, Jake Waldron shows us the acceptance letters he has already received from five colleges, before many students have even begun applying.

"Mrs. McCabe has helped me a lot throughout this class, and know like, the colleges I wanted to pick, and the best decision to make for my future."

Getting applications sent out on time is a stressful part of the process, but it's almost over.

In the second semester, with their first college classes just months away, it gets a little more stressful.

An early application can get a student early acceptance.

Early acceptance gives students more time to research and apply for scholarships.

"It's long. It's time consuming. It's tedious," says Journeys teacher, Ellen McCabe, who introduced the year-long course in 2011 after seeing a need for a class that walks students through the application process. "The problem with coming from a community that hasn't established college as a real importance is, you don't know what you don't know."

Knowing what questions to ask, and knowing when to submit application material is not going to magically come to a teenager whose parents and siblings have not been through the process.

"You don't know that you need to apply in October, when you're not graduating until May. You don't know that you need to take the ACT two or three times," says Ms. McCabe, as she lists things that her students need to know. "You don't know that you can get college application fees waived."

When asked where she would find this information if she were not in Journeys, senior, Devan Davis said "Honestly, I have no clue."

McCabe's program has drawn interest from other schools and accolades from students who, last year, nominated her for people magazine's teacher of the year.

"The best part is we are making the dream of college a reality, who wouldn't have pursued it on their own," says McCabe.

As the class enters the spring months, it even covers nutrition, course selection and survival techniques.

Since the first journeys class in 2011, every student that has come through this class has gone to college.

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