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 third is outlined below.

Applying for college is a multi-step process. So Aguilar’s team has built systems to meticulously track each stage of every student’s application.

For example, each year the school hosts a “FAFSA night” to help walk students and their families through the process of applying for federal financial aid. Before that evening, counselors also identify 10-15 students who might need more individual help, and meet with those students beforehand. Counselors also host a separate night for undocumented students to address early the specific complications of their paperwork.

Similarly, every October the school has a College Application Day where seniors complete their CSU applications and begin their UC applications. Students complete their private, out-of-state and Historically black college and university (HBCU) applications on follow-up Saturday workshops. To create this differentiated space for seniors, the counseling team strategically uses this same day to plan local college visits for 9th and 10th graders and industry site visits for 11th graders to explore career options.

Aguilar believes it is this high standard of differentiation and engagement with each student that ultimately makes LPS successful.  

“We expect counselors to be 100% accountable for every single student,” says Aguilar, “I expect that each counselor can tell me with 100% certainty which of their students has completed their FAFSA and DREAM Act forms, which application was submitted, who has registered for the SAT, everything.”