Counselor Spotlights

Cheryl Handwerker
Giving Students Confidence in Pursuing College

High school counselors like Cheryl Handwerker have many responsibilities, but one of the most rewarding roles is preparing students for college. Amidst tough challenges, she is giving her students the resources to succeed at getting accepted to college.

The Challenge

Commonwealth Connections Academy is an online school serving 2,610 high school students across Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Lehighton, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although many students at Commonwealth Connections want to attend college, they often feel overwhelmed by the prospects of doing so. "The college application process seems overwhelming to students, but if we educate and prepare them for what is expected, they'll be more confident," said high school counselor Cheryl Handwerker.

"Many of our pupils are first-generation college students, so their parents many need extra assistance since they didn't go through the process themselves. Our goal is to alleviate some of the pressure on students and parents by helping them understand the college application process."

The Solution

Handwerker thought CollegeWeekLive would give her students the necessary introduction to choosing and applying for college, and decided to give it a try. She began sending email alerts to students each month letting them know about online events coming up at CollegeWeekLive, and also encouraged them to attend the big FALL and SPRING online open houses to explore large numbers of colleges and scholarship opportunities.

The Results

Handwerker was pleased to find that many students enthusiastically took advantage of the site. "CollegeWeekLive is one of the best college resources for our online students who are comfortable with technologically-based education," she said. "This generation of students is more apt to want information that's quick, easy, and live. That's why CollegeWeekLive will continue to play a large role in the college search process. It's one of the easiest ways for students to learn about colleges from the comfort of their own home."

Students appreciate being able to research different colleges across the country and outside the U.S. They ask questions about the majors each school offers, the environment at the school, the costs, and the scholarship opportunities. They also get feedback from college students who can give a first-person perspective on college life. "Our students may not have even known some of these schools existed prior to using CollegeWeekLive," said Handwerker.

What's Next

The school is also now using CollegeWeekLive to set up meetings between college admissions reps and our students. "I plan to continue to highlight the wonderful opportunities that CollegeWeekLive offers for my students," Handwerker said.