Photo caption: Edrina Apilis (12) solves her Point of Confusion (POC) during AVID tutorial in Elle Wilder’s senior AVID class. Tutorials are designed to help students find the answers to their problems with their classmates through participation, asking questions, and note-taking.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a class that helps students prepare for college, teaching them how to write good scholarship essays and how to apply for college admissions, just to name a few. AVID also covers information about grants and loans, and also helps students with what to do after they get into college and how to make their experience worth the cost. “I joined AVID to get a better understanding of college and to prep me for college as well,” says Tenzin Palzom, one of the first AVID students to be graduating this year. Palzom describes how when she first joined AVID, she was not expecting to become as close with her classmates as she is now. “I feel like AVID is such a small group, everyone is so comfortable and close to each other, and that’s not what I was expecting from the class in high school.” Palzom was also surprised by the class-work because when she started taking AVID in her sophomore year, she expected there would be a lot of assignments. She explains, “Now in my senior year of AVID, it’s kind of a fun class and it taught me a lot of important things I would need for college, but it’s not a lot of work.” A part of that reason is because the class has a weekly course known as tutorials. Tutorials are a weekly class assignment that requires students to get in a group as one student goes up and presents a question they have regarding something they are struggling with. Then the rest of the group asks the presenter questions to help them find the answer to their question. “I feel like the tutorials have really taught [us] how to work together because before, I was always independent,” says Palzom. “If I struggled with something, I would just automatically ask the teacher, but tutorials have taught me to use my resources (also known as my friends) to get more help on my homework before I go to a teacher and ask them for help.” “The district decided that Franklin was just a good candidate to start it. Only a couple other high schools in the district had it so far. Madison has had AVID since 2002,” says AVID teacher Desi Wolff-Myren. Now, almost every high school in the PPS district except for Jefferson Middle College has the program funding from Nike. “I recommend that students take AVID as a little extra boost in confidence in skills in supporting the college process because a lot of people want to go to college but they get overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into applications and applying for scholarships, and I feel like in our classes, we’re able to offer some expertise and just build a community of people who have the same ideas.” Wolff describes that in other classes, students usually end up with a varied outcome regarding what they take from their learning, whereas in AVID, students are all achieving the same objective from their education. “Students are expected to really focus on school readiness, and school preparedness skills, like note-taking [and] just getting confident with things like speaking [and] working in those groups.” Knowing how to structure and organize your notes is a big part of being successful in college. One of the ways AVID teaches their students effective note-taking is through writing Cornell notes, prompting them to develop questions and extract key ideas from their stimulus. “It builds skills that you may not be [using] in college, but because you have this practice of working through hard problems by talking about them, when you get to college, it comes naturally.” Wolff emphasizes that AVID’s goal is not only to get students into college, but to keep them enrolled because a lot of students don’t make it past year one, lacking the skills to be successful, such as Cornell note structuring. “College is really hard, and if you’re already dealing with a lot of hard things at once and you’re trying to improve your school skills at the same time, you might get really discouraged and you might give up, and so we just want to even the playing field a little bit.” Though there are relatively fewer class assignments in AVID than in regular classes, there is still a lot of dedication involved in order to pass, but it’s worth it. “It’s challenging you as a student to push yourself,” Wolff says. AVID is intended to help students hone the skills they need in order to find a college, get into college and help guide them into their future in college.