Local college students helping high school seniors navigate transition during pandemic

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Posted at 6:54 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 06:54:31-05

(WSYM) — The last year has been difficult for student-learning and students' mental and emotional health, especially for high school seniors trying to navigate college applications, essays and financial aid forms.

But college students who have recently had to face these college transition challenges are stepping in to offer their experience to seniors in need.

For students like Cass Tech's Syeda Ara, senior year is full of stress: school work, COVID, and applying to college.

"But, Chai & Inc helped me immensely with that, first of all. And FAFSA. Oh, my God, that was so difficult," Ara said.

Chai and Ink was founded by recent Wayne State Grad Mahfuz Haque, who says the goal of helping high schoolers is simple.

"Helping them just relax and talk about talk about themselves, and not tell their stories and guide them to their admissions process," Haque said.

"Not only do they help invigorate your writing, but they keep you updated about the latest scholarships," Ara added.

Through Chai & Ink – Wayne state students "mentor youth through writing," helping high schoolers chart a path forward. But, sometimes they're just someone willing to listen.

"It's a friendly bond where students feel comfortable talking about whatever it is they need to talk about," Haque said.

At Eastern Michigan University, students Holly Sleder and Hannah Josslin are helping out through EMU Upward Bound, a federally-funded pre-college program to help bridge the gap between high school and college success.

"Not only just prepare them for getting into college, but actually being successful in college," Josslin said.

"I work with students by helping them fill out college applications, filling out FASFA scholarships, essays," Sleder added.

Both say they can see the pandemic burden weighing down on all students, even academic high achievers. But their recent experience as seniors transitioning to college gives them a unique perspective.

Allowing college students like Holly and Hannah to direct students to the right resources to overcome challenges in their path

Grand Valley State's Public Relations students have created an entire library to help walk incoming freshmen through dorm life, Greek life and preparing for college academics. It's called Life 101.

"I can't imagine going into college during a pandemic, but hopefully our advice can give you a little bit of clarity," Allison Canter, with the GVSU PR Student Society of America, said.

These college students aren't a replacement for college counselors or guidance counselors, but they are more like an older brother or sister who can listen and have a little more experience navigating what we all know is a difficult time without a pandemic.