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All it took was a single email

By Meital Caplan
December 8, 2017

We asked three Fellows to describe how their respective years in OneGoal went and the lessons they learned. Celinette speaks about starting OneGoal in Year 1, Mario gives us a look at finishing OneGoal in Year 3, and here, Jonathan describes the important lessons from Year 2. Jonathan graduated from the Academy for Software Engineering in New York and is part of Valerie Wynne Hennessey’s 2017 cohort. Jonathan is currently a freshman at Farmingdale State College studying Automotive Management Technology.

When I look back at the process of applying to and choosing a college, some key things come to mind:


Expect to become an expert on different parts of the college process.

We talked about everything in our OneGoal classrooms, like the different aspects of college, where we can go to get help on campus, how to navigate the different application portals and even master them in a way. We didn’t just talk about FAFSA; we broke it down.

Even as I think of reapplying for FAFSA next year, I know it’s going to be different than the first time around because now my mom is going to work again and so I’ll likely get less aid. But I now know how to look for the best scholarships for me. So when FAFSA opened up in Oct. 1, I finished it on the 2nd. Now I’ll be talking with friends from college about whether they’ve completed it and they don’t know anything about it, let alone that it was something they’d have to complete and get done! It feels really good that I don’t have to be behind or wondering, “am I going to get as much aid as I need,” because once you become an expert in it, filling it out year after year isn’t that scary.

At times, you’ll feel uncomfortable, but that’s good!

The most important things I learned about in my Year 2 experience of OneGoal were the transition and the adjustment to college once you enroll, especially if you’re going away to college. During the summer after high school graduation, I did a college visit for two weeks as part of an on-campus student support program called TRIO where we took classes, did homework, worked with a peer advisor, etc. It all felt weird and overwhelming. It was uncomfortable living by myself, making new friends. However, it was rather an important first taste of college life because now I’m living away from home full-time. The transition was slow, but I got involved with different activities that forced me to talk to people and meet new friends. Now staff feels like family and we’re a crazy group of people but we’re so comfortable here.

A single email can determine if you go to your dream school or not.

As I was applying to colleges, I realized that the best way to achieve my childhood dream of working with cars in some capacity would be to major in Automotive Technology. So when I googled colleges in New York that offered that major, I found that there weren’t many programs. In fact, most colleges I found only offered associate’s degrees, and I knew I wanted a bachelor’s degree. So when I landed on Farmingdale State College and saw that it had some of the best student retention rates, the tuition was decent, and it wasn’t too far from home, I knew that was where I wanted to go. It was a reach school for me but I applied anyways because my Program Director Ms. Wynne told our class that there were instances where students could get into their reach schools.

So much time passed without hearing from Farmingdale that I practically gave up on it. But as usual, Ms. Wynne was on my back about it and gave me the motivation and the information for reaching out to them. Only through this communication did I learn that what had prevented me from being outright accepted into its automotive technology program was a single missing requisite. Though I hadn’t been accepted into that specific program, I could work with them to be accepted into the school as a Liberal Arts major and then potentially transfer into the program once I completed the prerequisite. I wouldn’t have known have had this path open to me if I hadn’t reached out.

Use your Program Director’s expertise.

Now, I’ve just finished my first semester at Farmingdale State and I’ve been accepted into the Automotive Management Technology program. Ms. Wynne continues to always check in on me and it’s always in moments when I didn’t realize that I needed her support until I get her call. Last year, I was one of the first Fellows in our class to get a college acceptance letter. I remembered her writing it on the board and shouting out my acceptance to the rest of the class. It made me feel like I was ahead of the game. A year later, I still do.

MORE: Fellows, New York