This is the second of three blogs featuring current college students who participated in American College Application Campaign events.
Why did you apply to college?
I applied to college because it is an important step toward the future I hope to have for myself. I will be the first in my family to graduate, which is a tremendous achievement for me personally as I am making my family proud. On a professional note, college is my opportunity to expand out of my comfort zone and improve myself on both the academic and personal levels. College is life changing, as I get to spend every day investing in myself and my goals, gaining unforgettable experiences, and maintaining long-lasting relationships with other like-minded individuals. Honestly, I can’t picture a more fulfilling way to spend my next four years.
Who is one person who supported you and influenced your decisions about where to apply?
The one person who supported me throughout this entire journey was my mother. As a first-generation college student, postsecondary education is a big priority in my house, and she was very hands on in her approach to help me make the best decisions for myself. During the application period, we would have daily sit downs where I talked about what I was looking for in an institution and how they fit into my goals. She would do her own research on schools and send them to me despite being busy working, which really meant a lot to me.
We understand that you worked on your applications during your school’s application campaign. How did the campaign help you?
Apply Yourself Florida, which is part of the American College Application Campaign, was a huge motivation for me when applying to colleges. As a participant in my school district’s Broward Advisors for Continuing Education (BRACE) program, I used some of the resources provided to help my fellow seniors at College Academy with their application process. One of the best tools I used personally was the free ACT e-book Your Guide to Planning for College and Careers. I was able to learn how to maximize my opportunities through reading the e-book and narrowed down the schools I wanted to apply to. We also hosted a college week at school where we used the #IApplied selfie challenge as a way to generate buzz and excitement about college applications.
Where did you decide to go to college? Why did you make that choice?
I decided to go to Howard University because Howard is known for cultivating the best and brightest students – especially African Americans. As a Black female student, I wanted to continue my education at an institution that values both intellectual curiosity and cultural diversity. Going to a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), especially Howard, is an honor. It gives me the chance to connect with other students like myself in a nurturing environment that celebrates Black culture and black history. Howard really encourages its students to push beyond the boundaries created and work to leave a mark on this world–a message that resonates with me and am happy to continue through the legacy of Black excellence.
What has been the biggest surprise during your first semester?
The biggest surprise during my first semester, besides virtual learning, is the freedom and flexibility I have with my own education. I was full-time, dual enrollment in my last two years of high school, so I was familiar with the idea of independent learning, but I was limited in my options. Going to a university, I have the flexibility to make my education fit for me and my goals, which I consider really refreshing. It motivates me to take classes that I am interested in and to make the most of such an incredible experience.
What is one piece of advice that you want to give to current high school students who are thinking about continuing their education after graduation?
I would recommend that current high school students think beyond their circumstances and do not limit themselves. Many decisions often influence where and how a person gets to their goals. I recommend doing your research, starting early, and looking at all your options. You never know what lies ahead if you don’t try, so don’t be afraid to expose yourself to new situations and go for those opportunities you did not think were attainable. Trust me, you might surprise yourself.
Jheanelle Johnson is a freshman studying biology at Howard University and a 2020 graduate of College Academy at Broward College – North Campus in Coconut Creek, FL.