New Ocean Springs center offers free college prep services

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Do you need help applying for financial aid? How about raising your ACT score? There's a new center in Ocean Springs that can guide south Mississippi students along the road to college.  The services are absolutely free.

"What kind of college is going to be good for my personality?" a counselor asked Bayleigh Herron Wednesday.

Herron is learning quickly that preparing for college can be time-consuming and complicated.

"It's scary, actually. I have no idea what I'm going to do," she said.

The St. Martin High School senior and any student interested in going to college can now get some help navigating through the maze of college planning confusion.

On Wednesday, the Education Services Foundation dedicated its new Get2College Center in downtown Ocean Springs.  The building is located on Cox Avenue. It is the non-profit group's first branch outside of Jackson.

"College admissions is very competitive. In addition, the rising cost of college tuition is making it more difficult for families to afford a four-year degree," said ESF Counselor Brandi Lyndall. "So whatever we can do to help them get to college and pay for college, we're willing to do it."

Students can schedule one-on-one counseling sessions. They can get help applying for financial aid and scholarships, exploring college and career choices, and writing an impressive resume and essay.

The students can also take advantage of ACT prep workshops and practice tests. The best part is all of the services and wealth of resources for students, parents, and guidance counselors don't cost them a dime.

"The great thing about this organization is they're getting information to people to say you need to start this early," said Bobby Trosclair, St. Patrick Catholic High Principal. "So helping them find a way to pay for it, helping them go through the application process, it's just been exciting."

"I think that it's awesome for kids, especially because it's free," said Herron. "They hold your hand all the way to get you to college, so they really care about what you want to do."

The counselors at the center also visit area high schools to give presentations on college preparation. They stress that you should start planning for college in your freshman year.

ESF is awarding 50 $1,000 scholarships to Mississippi seniors.  Students can get details and the application at www.get2college.org.  Scholarship winners will get a surprise visit from the Get2College Squad in the spring.

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