Riverside Unified School District serves public elementary, middle, and high schools in Riverside, Highgrove, and Woodcrest, California. Mark Lim is among the seasoned counselors responsible for supporting the school district’s 12,000 high school students. He counsels more than 600 students at Ramona High School. As a counselor for one of the largest AVID programs in the country, Mark is always looking for new ways to spark students’ interest in college planning.
The school district is working to foster a college-going culture throughout its schools, and help inspire the students, the majority of whom are socioeconomically disadvantaged. “Most of our students’ parents haven’t gone to college, and some didn’t finish high school,” explained Lim. “But our mindset is to push them to the best they can be. Our students are taking rigorous courses and striving to do better.”
Lim has a tremendous caseload of more than 600 students, yet he does not let that deter him. He’s taken bold steps to expand opportunities for students. For example, he works closely with private schools across the country. He has visited these campuses in-person to understand what resources are available to support his students once they’re enrolled. “I want to know that my students are in good hands,” Lim explained.
In addition, Lim has helped to generate nearly $3 million in financial aid for his students. “I’ve built partnerships with several private universities that are interested in students like ours who will help them achieve their diversity goals,” Lim said. “It’s a great win for both the school and the student. Our students can get a great quality education with an attractive financial aid package.”
Lim also introduced the school district’s AVID Elective Teachers to CollegeWeekLive as a resource for beginning their college planning process. “CollegeWeekLive is a great way for students to start building their college list, beginning in their freshman year,” Lim said. “It’s an exciting way to help kids explore different options. Being a resource for students at a pivotal moment in their lives is extremely rewarding.”
AVID Elective Teachers are also using CollegeWeekLive’s High School Connect site to schedule online meetings between their students and universities that are of particular interest to them. This has given Riverside students an opportunity to chat directly with admissions counselors from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Syracuse University, and Lasalle College. AVID Elective Teachers are on hand during these sessions to help facilitate the conversation and provide additional guidance to students.
“CollegeWeekLive is a great resource for our students,” Lim said. “It’s the perfect tool. Students can actually learn firsthand how to interface with college admissions.”
Twice a week, students have a free period when they can go to the library or log into CollegeWeekLive from their cell phone to research colleges. “CollegeWeekLive gives students access to schools they may never have heard of, or have never dreamed of,” Lim said. “It truly expands their horizons.”
Lim’s efforts are paying off in droves. “I recently visited 17 of my students who are attending Bentley and WPI,” he said. “It’s exciting to see them doing so well. There’s no greater sense of pride than seeing our students succeed.”