Education

Apache Junction AVID class learning about colleges, visiting campuses

Posted 11/17/21

It’s just after 7:15 a.m. on a Wednesday morning when Bill Olcan, an admissions counselor at Benedictine University in downtown Mesa, gets up in front of the AVID class at Apache Junction High …

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Education

Apache Junction AVID class learning about colleges, visiting campuses

Posted

It’s just after 7:15 a.m. on a Wednesday morning when Bill Olcan, an admissions counselor at Benedictine University in downtown Mesa, gets up in front of the AVID class at Apache Junction High School.

Olcan will spend the next 45 minutes telling students all about the educational and extracurricular options at Benedictine University. He will be followed by a representative from another university the following Wednesday — either virtually or in a classroom — and the Wednesday after that.

Their pitches — if you can call them that — exemplify what AVID stands for: Advancement Via Individual Determination. The AVID class helps students at AJHS and Cactus Canyon Junior High School recognize the advancements they can make in their educational journeys and then to make the best decision possible as to what college they will attend.

AJHS sophomore Bailey Brummer won’t graduate until 2023 but she believes she already has a head start on college because of AVID.

“If I was like a normal student who wasn’t in AVID I wouldn’t have thought of half of this stuff,” Brummer said. “I already know what to expect from class work, what colleges want from me, and how much they’ll cost.”

Currently, 94 students from AJHS and Cactus Canyon are in the AVID program. Students will make campus visits to ASU, NAU and Grand Canyon University; and GCU, University of Arizona, Rio Salado Community College, ASU and Oregon State are among the universities that have sent representatives to talk to the AVID class at AJHS.

The program isn’t just all talk. First-generation, low-income AVID alumni who go to college are four times more likely to graduate than their national peers. In Arizona, 92% of all AVID seniors completed their four-year college entrance requirements.

“The most meaningful thing about AVID is for the students to see that their hopes and dreams for the future are attainable,” said Richard Barmer, AVID site coordinator/coach in Apache Junction Unified School District.

AVID teacher Liz Savolt said one of the most important things students learn that is that post-secondary education isn’t the same everywhere. Benedictine University, for instance, is different than Northern Arizona University, when it comes to costs, classes, etc. NAU is different than New Mexico State and so on.

“Even in my short time as an AVID instructor, I have seen students mentally flip that switch to say to themselves that college can be a reality financially and that they have the skills to achieve it,” Savolt said.

Savolt said AVID helps clear up misconceptions for students, whether it’s how much a college education costs or the time constraints involved.

“All too often students think college is not possible,” she said, “but AVID helps inform students of all the possibilities of post-secondary education. There are some great community colleges in the area that cater to working individuals and for some of our students that is a great fit. AVID is a really great program to help students ask questions, be exposed to a variety of post-secondary options and squash any of those misconceptions.”

Editor’s note: Scott Bordow is Apache Junction Unified School District’s director of communications and community engagement.

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