Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

September 5, 2013

PROGRESS REPORT: GO Center a one-stop resource for college assistance, more

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — The GO Center at Jacksonville High School has provided both students and counselors a “one-stop” resource for all things related to post-high school studies, as well as a dedicated test site for those students taking online classes.

“It's been something we had been (requesting) for quite a while,” said Lisa Mehlenbacher, lead counselor for the district. “A lot of schools have a GO Center, and we researched it (for the local high school) – when the district did updates to the front offices, we found a spot in counseling suite, and now we've go a place in the same hallway as us, where the kids can go.”

Supplied with four computers, a printer and various college catalogues, as well as material about careers in the military, the local GO Center has been an instant success.

Senior Ryan Travis, 17, said this is his first time to utilize the center, where he was filling in a universal college application through the Apply Texas website.

“I wanted to get a head start” in preparing for college, he said, adding that he felt the set up was easy for students to use.

Fellow senior Andrew Rock, 18, became familiar with the GO Center in August, when he set up an exam for his online learning class.

“I think it's great,” he said, adding that the counselors set up the center so that “it's easy to use.”

Mehlenbacher said having year-old center located near the counselors' office has been wonderful because students “have us available if they get stuck or if they have a question.

“In the past we'd run back and forth to the library, but now they can just stick their head out the door if they need help,” she said.

They also receive help filling out other computerized forms – like those for the ACT and SAT, as well as the FAFSA, which deals with financial aid for college students – at the GO Center; and they can check on scholarships available to them, even pick up an application if they're interested.

“Most of the scholarship information comes in after January, and we keep them posted on the district website” for easier access, she said.

Having a dedicated center has been a blessing for counselors, too, when it comes to helping students taking online courses through Texas Virtual High School.

While they are able to take these courses from the convenience of their home, “tests must be proctored by a counselor,” Mehlenbacher said.

“Having the center so close (to the counselors' offices has been so) handy,” she said, “because now we can stay in our area with them, and that makes it efficient.”

The GO Center also has been a fantastic resource for as parents trying to navigate the world of college applications.

“We want to do as much as we can to help the parents, because the process can be very tedious,” if not unfamiliar to them, Mehlenbacher said. “We also have college nights where the parents can come up and (representatives of different schools) will help them with the Apply Texas process and financial aid, even if their child isn't going to attend their college.”

The center is open to all high school students before and after classes, although “mostly right now, we've got seniors looking to see if certain scholarships have been listed, or they're (logging onto) Apply Texas to know what to do with that process. Some are looking at colleges,” she said. High school juniors often wait until the spring to visit the center as they start looking into ACT or SAT testings.

All in all, the GO Center has been a boon to the high school.

“It's something we'd really been asking for, and we're so glad to have one,” Mehlenbacher said.

To learn more about the GO Center, contact the JHS Counseling office, 903-586-3661 ext. 7065, or call Mehlenbacher at extension 7310.