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EVENT: College Application - 12.5

Grade 12 - How Do I Apply?

This event will provide pairs with an opportunity to explore, understand and deconstruct the individual components of the college application. 

Event Overview


Pairs will:

  • Review the common application.
  • Walkthrough each section step by step to clarify what they need to do, answer questions they have, decide how to best complete that section.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are the components of the college application?
  • Do I understand what I have to do for each section?

Lesson Resources:

  • Welcome posters and signage visible as mentors and mentees approach the door of the event space.
  • Ensure all technology is functioning properly before participants arrive (if applicable). 
  • Setup clear way for pairs to find each other during (i.e. assigned seating, numbers, name cards, etc.).
  • Have DISH conversation card decks ready on tables.
  • Have upbeat, professionally-appropriate music playing.
  • Greet each person as they enter the event space. Welcome them as they arrive and address them by name.
  • Have fun!

Entry Point

Welcome and Opening (20 minutes)

Chunk One: Welcome

  • Staff formally welcomes all participants. 
  • Staff thanks everyone for showing up on time (it'll be important to emphasize punctuality as part of event success).

Chunk Two: Meaningful Moments

  • Staff will place special DISH Cards at each table.
  • Pairs will partner with another pair at their table, will select one prompt, and share their answer.
  • Prompts are:
    • Some people have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe they would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
    • The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
    • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
    • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
    • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

DISH: Connecting Over Dinner (30 minutes)

Chunk One: Food Ritual

  • Staff will instruct pairs on how they will get food and return to their seats.
  • It is important that staff set strong rituals for how participants get food to maximize efficiency.

Chunk Two: Conversation Starter Deck

  • Staff should instruct pairs to use the rest of the special DISH cards to catch up.
  • Staff ensures DISH conversation starter card decks are on the tables. When pairs return to their tables with food, they draw cards and discuss the content on the cards. The cards are intended to be used if pairs do not already have a conversation to engage in.

Chunk Three: Seconds and Clean Up

  • Staff will signal that seconds are available (if applicable)
  • Staff will give pairs 5 minute warning to clean up and throw away trash

Pair Keystone (45 minutes) 


In this activity, pairs will read and review the common application and highlight areas where they have questions or need additional support.


Chunk One: Understanding the College Application

  • Staff will guide the group through the application as a whole. The common application is long and has a lot of components. Therefore, it'll be important to keep the group in relatively the same place to answer common questions, troubleshoot items, and ask section specific questions. Based on flow and questions from the large group, staff should build in periodic times for sharing out and asking questions. 
  • Part I: Applicant profile, future plans, demographics
    • What questions do you have?
    • What terms need additional explanation?
  • Part II: Family
    • What would be the best way to obtain the information to complete this section?
    • When should you engage your parent or guardian in the process?
  • Part III: Education and Academics
    • What exams and tests do mentees still need to take?
  • Part IV: Extracurriculars and Work Experience
    • What activities, internships, and jobs from the mentee's 4 years of high school can and should be included?
    • How specific do I need to be when entering items?
  • Part V: Essay
    • Do these look familiar?
    • Which essay prompt would mentees select to write about?
  • Part VI: Letters of Recommendation
    • Who do I want to ask to complete a letter of recommendation?
  • Part VII: School and Transcript Reports
    • Who do I have to see and talk to obtain my grade reports?

Chunk Two: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

  • Pairs will review the overall application and identify specific areas where the mentor can proactively support the mentee. 

Exit Ramp (10 minutes)

Community Debrief and Mentee Exit

  • Staff will direct pairs to share their support strategies with other pairs at their table.
  • Staff will ask individuals to share:
    • something they learned today about the college application
  • Exit ritual for mentees

Mentor Huddle (15 minutes)


  • Staff will thank mentors for participating in the event.
  • Staff will make any relevant announcements and preview any upcoming milestones and curriculum topics.
    • Staff should address approaching application deadlines.
    • Staff can address any lingering questions about new platform (if applicable)

Community Dialogue

  • Spectrum Activity
    • Staff will identify two areas of the room that represent "strongly agree" and "strongly disagree"
    • Staff will ask read statements and ask mentors to go the place that best represents how they feel
    • Mentors will form groups of 4-5 and share how they feel
  • Statements are:
    • I understand what my role is in supporting my mentee through this process
    • I feel confident in my knowledge of the general college process to help my mentee answer basic questions
    • I know who to turn to when I have questions or need help
  • Staff will ask 2-3 mentors to share out to rest of group

Closing Ritual

  • Staff should facilitate a closing ritual for mentors to build community and to leave on a high note.