What sets LPS Hayward apart? The culture at LPS Hayward centers on the idea that every student — regardless of race or income — is college material. Dr. Claudia Aguilar leads the college counseling program. Her team creates a college-going culture by systematically removing many of the academic, cultural, and financial barriers that typically hold students back. Her team has identified five keys to success at breaking down those barriers, the fourth is outlined below.

Many students at LPS will go on to be the first in their families to graduate college. At the beginning of senior year, Aguilar and her team meet with every single senior student and their families. During these meetings, counselors can identify students who have lagged behind in the college application process and develop an action plan for how they can catch-up. For students on track, these meetings serve as the starting point for discussing their college list and opening up some of the difficult conversations surrounding the decision of where to apply.

“If a student has selected a school far from home, I use that meeting to begin asking ‘If your student gets in to this school, will you let her go? What do you think about the goals your student has set?’” says Aguilar.  

Aguilar believes these meetings significantly help establish trust, especially when students and families have to make hard choices about college at the end of the year. Engaging parents also takes pressure off school counselors from being a student’s only source of support. “Even if they may not remember all the technical information, if parents are at least encouraging their student and seeing themselves as general partners throughout the process, that’s crucial.”

Her team also engages seniors and their families in a transition meeting at the end of the year where they prepare families for the emotional cycle and timeline that students will go on to face in their first year of college.  “Our main goal is to prepare parents for the ‘this is hard and I want to come home’ phone call,” explains Aguilar. In these meetings, the staff normalizes the challenging emotional experience that college may pose and helps families anticipate how to support their child through it.