, Muskogee, OK

November 5, 2012

Hilldale seniors prepare for college

Class readies teens for life after high school

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Hilldale High School 12th-graders are learning about college scholarships, budgets, job searches  — almost anything they need to know about life after high school.

Call it a senior class class.

“We want to introduce kids to college scholarships and other areas,” said Larry Shanks, who has taught the class over its three years. “I have guest speakers coming in from college, and we help with federal aid, resumes, cover letters.”

Shanks also has taken his classes on field trips to visit area colleges.

He said that, while he hasn’t figured out how many more students are getting scholarships or other help through the class, he knows it has helped.

Last year’s senior class, which had 98 to 100 seniors, earned a total of $3.5 million in scholarships, he said.

Class participants, which include most of Hilldale’s 127 seniors, are to keep all their scholarship materials, college materials and applications in their own Senior Boxes.

“I put all my college stuff in it, and it’s overflowing,” said senior Katie Keifer.

Shanks said students benefit from getting their information as soon as possible. He also advises his students to get their paperwork done early.

“The longer you wait, the longer they need to process the applications,” he told the class.

He said representatives from Connors State College will visit the class before Christmas break to give out personal identification numbers and help students register for financial aid.

Students do get a grade in the class. The class includes quizzes on different types of universities and scholarships, Shanks said.

The only seniors not taking the class are those taking concurrent classes with colleges, attending Indian Capital Technology Center or taking credit recovery classes.

Students also learn about careers through the class, high school counselor Judy Moore said.

“People from the armed forces have come in to talk,” she said.

“We’ve given them little booklets, ‘Now that you’re 18, here’s what to expect,’” Moore said.

“Students don’t realize that when they’re 18, they are responsible for so many things.”

That includes voting. Moore said 33 Hilldale seniors registered to vote after turning 18.

Students also keep a notebook of all their expenses and income, Shanks said.

“I had to write down everything I bought over the weekend,” said senior Evan Fitzgerald. “I learned I spend a lot of money on food.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or