The U.S. Embassy’s Paul Robeson Information Resource Center (IRC) hosted a lively information sharing session for Jamaican High School Guidance Counselors on how best to prepare students for study in the United States. Participants included Guidance Counselors from several high schools across the island including Charlie Smith High, Jamaica College, Dinthill Technical High and Immaculate Conception High.
The session was led by the U.S. Embassy’s Education USA Advisor/Information Associate Eva Barnes who highlighted the various services offered by the IRC and provided extensive details on the five-steps towards successful matriculation into an American University. This five-pronged approach includes the research process – where students must ensure that they adequately go through the over 4000 accredited Degree granting institutions in the U.S. to choose the school which best suits their needs. Ms. Barnes was quick to point out that “in the US there is no universal standard for acceptance; and every aspiring student must look closely at the admission requirements for each University.” Ms. Barnes also emphasized the need for parental involvement in this first stage of the process. Guidance Counselors were then taken through the process of exploring financial aid opportunities; accurate completion of the college application; the visa application process and how best to prepare successful students for the college experience and develop skills to adjust to cultural differences.
The session later facilitated a robust question and answer session where participants not only raised questions but exchanged ideas and best practices on how to guide students within their respective school settings. The forum also provided a strong networking opportunity for the group.
Notably, Jamaica has the largest contingent of students from the English Speaking Caribbean and forms a significant contributor to the US government’s goal to achieve cross-cultural exchange through education. In March 2011, President Barack Obama launched “100,000 Strong in the Americas,” an initiative to increase international study in Latin America and the Caribbean. The purpose of “100,000 Strong in the Americas” is to foster region-wide prosperity through greater international exchange of students, who are our future leaders and innovators.
Other schools represented in the session were Glenmuir High, St. Catherine High, Hillel Academy, St. Hugh’s High, Melrose Primary & Junior High, Pembroke Hall High, Penwood High and the Louise Bennett Coverley All Age School.
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