The Senior Experience

December 2023

Ending 2023 on a Good Note

It's officially the holiday season! Read on to learn how your match can plan well for what's ahead, including the FAFSA and writing a personal essay for an application.


  • Understand what it's like to be a first generation college student
  • How to write a strong personal essay
  • Start planning for the FAFSA you'll fill out in January


  • If you haven't already or if there's been a change in your mentee's post-graduation plan or graduation status, please check in with your Mentoring Specialist.
  • Touch base with your mentee about how they're progressing with college applications or job shadowing

Are You a First Generation Student?

Some mentees may be the first in their family to potentially go to college.

Whether or not this is the case, mentees are taking a big step in creating a better future for themselves through whatever career pathway they choose.

The following video (by a first-generation college student herself) is a helpful resource as you and your mentee prepare and celebrate the journey. After you watch it, consider the reflection questions below the video.

What I Have Learned as a first-generation college student | TEDxUofSC

Reflection Questions

  1. Is there anything about college or life after high school that worries you?
  2. Do you feel equipped with the skills needed to succeed?
  3. The speaker mentions a moment when she chose to be brave. What is one way you can be brave before the end of this semester?

How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

"But I'm not going to college. Why do I need to know this?"

A personal statement is a short essay written with the goal of sharing who someone is, in essence. It's not only used for college applications, though. A personal statement may be required for a scholarship or elements of it might be helpful in an interview.

Now is a great time to start writing a personal statement!

Mentors. . .

  • Ask your mentee if they have written anything in the past that they enjoyed. This helps gauge their comfort level with writing.
  • With your mentee, look at the prompts of the applications your mentee is considering. Discuss what they feel drawn to sharing. Jot down notes as your mentee shares (these are helpful for the actual drafting process).

Additional Resources

  • Template & examples
  • Proofreading - we have a contact who has offered to proofread. Let your Mentoring Specialist know if your mentee is interested and we will get you in touch.

What's Next?

Considering college?

  • Schedule a few campus visits through college websites.
  • Prepare to start filling out the FAFSA next month. This form is what you need to receive federal financial aid. You'll need to create an FSA ID and one or both of your parents will also need to create their own FSA ID (which you can do now). Use this chart to determine which of your parents needs to contribute.

No SSN? If you're considering college and your parent doesn't have a social security number (SSN), they will still create an FSA ID. The system will try to verify their identity through different questions. If you don't have a SSN, you do not qualify for federal financial aid and don't need to fill out the FAFSA. You do still quality for funding in Colorado, however, through the CASFA. Learn More

There are private scholarships available, as well. To review more on this, read through the October newsletter. You can also get an overview of everything by watching 4 short videos about the FAFSA.

Not considering college?

It's a great time to set up a time to talk to a trade program or a professional in a field you're interested in. If you need help finding connections, let your mentoring specialist know!

College Applications

If you want to attend a four-year college, look at the specific deadlines that are coming up (including the "priority deadline" that can give you the best chance of getting in). The earliest deadlines for Colorado schools is January 15, but vary. Community college all have flexible deadlines and applications. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Explore schools that use the Common App to see if you want to apply through the common app or through individual schools' websites.
  • If you have questions as you work on applications, reach out to the school's admissions counselor. You can find their info on the school's website.
  • Still deciding if/where you want to apply? Try applying to a few, including at least one community college. Then you can see what the financial aid packages are like and decide later.
  • Community Colleges are always free to apply. Most other schools have an "application fee waiver form" if helpful to apply to multiple schools

Education Department

I am Angela Maher, the Education Manager at Save Our Youth. Check out the last few newsletters on the Senior Experience webpage.

Senior Experience Support Page

If you haven't already, please RSVP to the Christmas Party next Saturday, Dec. 9! I hope to see you there.


Each month, check your inbox for "The Senior Experience" newsletter. Here are the topics we'll cover. Each newsletter will come to your email and will also be available on our website for an easy reference.

  • October: Complete SOY survey, confirm graduation status, intro to options after high school and deadlines, Discover Pathwaze, ACT/SAT 
  • November: Reality of different post-secondary options and resources for them
  • December: Applying for colleges, info on being a first-gen student, intro to FAFSA
  • January: Completing the FAFSA and applying for other scholarships
  • February: Checking that FAFSA and scholarships apps are completed, check-in on college applications, and deeper dive on budgeting (life skill)
  • March: Job prep (resume, interviewing, etc) and intro to our scholar’s program
  • April: How to finish senior year strong, upcoming SOY dates, and overcoming common barriers faced after high school
  • May: Graduation Celebration! We'll celebrate what you have accomplished, what to do if things did not go as planned (ex. Find out is not graduating on time), and looking ahead to what to focus on in the summer


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