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New hotline guides students through college applications

June 17, 2020

The free service will also offer advice on financial aid and other college issues

By Ross Brenneman

USC College Advising Corps member Gerrel Sayles works with students on their college applications earlier this spring. (Photo/Josh Krause, 211 Photography)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USC’s College Advising Corps and The California Community Foundation have launched the College Access For All hotline.

The free service, offered to students within Los Angeles, is designed to provide guidance around students’ postsecondary transitions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students, parents and school staff can call to receive answers to their questions and be connected to the resources they need to succeed, the program’s leaders say.

“College is an exciting step for so many students, but it can also be a complicated and confusing process,” says Sarah Ruderman, project manager for the College Access For All hotline. “The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing school closures have exacerbated this, causing recent graduates anxiety about what their first semester of college will look like and how they will pay for it.”

(Read more about the USC College Advising Corps.)

Ruderman says that the College Access For All Hotline was created to guide Los Angeles’ students and their families as they plan for and begin their postsecondary journeys.”

Via the hotline (1-323-870-8600), USC CAC advisers can help students with applying to college, navigating financial aid, comparing financial aid offers, understanding how to pay for college during COVID-19 and other services.

College adviser Mariangelica Valle says that many seniors she’s heard from have been especially stressed about finalizing their college admissions, such as by sending final semester transcripts. Juniors, meanwhile, are often worried about how the typical admissions process will change for them this fall as the pandemic continues.

“It is easy to be discouraged and maybe put off the college application process,” Valle says. “But students should continue to work hard and do their research on colleges and what they offer.”

The college advisers staffing the hotline will complement the work of school counselors throughout the area and provide advising services to students that don’t have access to counselors. The USC College Advising Corps members have extensive experience working in college access.

The hotline also offers counselors for Spanish speakers. After business hours, students can leave a voicemail and messages will be responded to the next business day.

The College Access For All hotline can be reached at 323-870-8600.

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