ETS to help high school students prepare for transition to college

The Educational Talent Search is located in the basement of Billingsly Student Center equipped with 10 computers.

The Educational Talent Search is located in the basement of Billingsly Student Center equipped with 10 computers.

Amye Buckley

Students returning their rentals books last semester may have wondered about the dust and drywall in the basement of Billingsly Student Center. Now, a new office fills the corner across from the bookstore.

Armed with a new grant, four offices, a bank of 10 computers and an optimistic outlook, the staff inside the new Educational Talent Search offices hope to make college possible for local secondary students.

ETS, like its sister programs Upward Bound and Project Stay, is one of the grant-funded programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of the ETS program is to increase post-secondary education enrollment for local students in grades six through 12. The ETS staff plans to work with area schools, school counselors and parents to help students prepare for the college application process.

Rebecca Olivares, director of ETS wants to help high school students understand the importance of core classes and how they can plan for their future.

“We want them to know what they can do now, as high school students, in preparation for their college careers,” Olivares said.

Part of ETS’ role will be to help high school students prepare for college entrance exams and fill out financial aid paperwork. Plans are in the works for summer sessions for secondary students.

Still in the early stages of extending the program, the staff’s plan is to meet with school counselors, assessing how they can best help students and families.

“Our main focus is to supplement what school counselors are already doing,” Olivares said.

To reach area students, ETS staff will not be spending much time in their new offices. Katie Karleskint, outreach specialist for ETS, says she and the other specialists will be doing presentations in schools 95% of the time.

“We don’t recruit specifically for Southern,” said Olivares, distinguishing their role as a federally funded organization. “But we do expose students to what Southern has to offer.”

The Missouri Southern ETS works with six school districts: Carthage, Galena, Joplin, Riverton, Sarcoxie and Webb City. The program is available in other areas through local institutions.

Although the grant funding ETS was approved this fall it took a little time to find a place to house the organization. ETS staff are happy with Southern’s response to their needs.

“The administration has been very kind to us,” Karleskint said. “And we’re very thankful for their assistance.”

Their desks and other office equipment will arrive soon. But, for now, staff members plow ahead using folding tables and plan for how ETS can benefit area students.

Karleskint feels lucky to be where she is. “I feel very fortunate too be able to be a part of something so helpful to so many students to succeed past high school and secondary education,” she said. She looks forward to making college available to students in the four-state area.

“It’s gonna be fun.” she said.

If you would like more information, please contact the Educational Talent Search at 417-659-5441.