Every Wednesday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., Mission Journey Coordinator Briana West’s office door is open for seniors in the Journey program. This fall, Briana began offering this two-hour block as a time to drop in for help with college applications, learn about scholarships, or just hang out.
This time provides an easy way for students to receive any assistance they might need from a trusted adult. These office hours also mimic the office hours professors have at college. By introducing them to the idea, Briana hopes students will be more likely to seek out support if they choose to go to college.
“Seeing how many students have taken advantage of the hours offered has been amazing,” Briana says. “This space gives them a consistent time and place where they know they can come work on anything they might need help on, a quiet space to focus, along with just having conversations, especially the hard ones around leaving home.”
For many, the office hours have provided time for them to figure out their post high school path, a central tenant of Journey. For those attending college, they each received help completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and submitted it before November. A month later, all 11 Journey 12th graders had all applied to at least one college. Altogether, the seniors submitted applications to 42 colleges.
Now, acceptances for colleges are rolling in and Briana helps the students celebrate their successes. If they need help figuring out their college choices or understanding their financial aid packages, she is there. She is a neutral sounding board for those weighing their choices.
One Journey student says, “The Journey open office hours are super helpful for many reasons. It allows a safe space for students to vent, somewhere to go do homework, and work on scholarships or any part of the college application process.”
As these students get closer to graduation, the program is already supporting the 11th grade students as they embark on their new journeys. “The Journey program’s goal is to provide opportunities for students to explore potential careers and college pathways beginning in 7th grade. We believe the more college campuses they step foot on and the more career professionals they speak with during middle school and high school, the more confident they will be in deciding which pathway is the best fit for their future.”
The Journey program provides students in grades 7 through 12 deep mentoring with professional staff, community members, and older peers. Downeast youth participating in Journey explore the outdoors and their communities to develop the tools needed to successfully transition to high school and through higher education and career pathways.