Participant turned counselor reveals why Clemson Career Workshop succeeds with prospective college students
The Clemson University Charles H. Houston Center will host the Clemson Career Workshop this summer for rising high school seniors. The summer residential workshop combines learning opportunities with sessions on college preparation and life skills that will increase the likelihood of success for a diverse population of eventual underclassmen.
Students will attend the workshop from July 9 to 14 and live on campus in residence halls. Aside from the academic and experiential courses planned for the workshop, participants will also get to interact with Clemson students, faculty, staff and alumni to get a better idea of what to expect from higher education. Deion Jamison, a Clemson senior and sociology major, attended the workshop as a high school student in 2012 and then served as a counselor in 2014 and 2016. He said he is proof that the workshop attracts students to Clemson.
“I participated in two camps in the state as a high school student,” Jamison said. “In the end, it was clear that Clemson was the way to go; it’s a nationally recognized university and the workshop experience made me want to apply and attend because I knew I would emerge stronger with a degree from Clemson University.”
During the workshop’s early years, its purpose was to increase diversity in STEM education. The program still includes a STEM track for students and increasing diversity is still a priority, but it also offers career tracks for all other majors so that it will appeal to a wider audience.
Jamison said the workshop’s information sessions on networking tools and tips for ensuring academic success stuck with him throughout his time at Clemson. He said it was also reassuring for him and his fellow students to interact with professors before even applying to Clemson. He said it was borderline intimidating to serve as counselor during his freshman year, but he quickly realized it was a way for him to pay it forward with a new class of students.
“It was a little overwhelming at first; part of me felt like I still didn’t know what I was doing just coming out of freshman year,” Jamison said, laughing, “but my fellow counselors helped me out and I quickly saw how my experience the previous year would help me guide new students.”
Jamison said counselors usually spend the first day of the workshop on icebreaker activities that help students adjust to an experience that for many is completely new and scary. However, he said by the end of the first night students have let their guard down and are open to the well of information the workshop has become for potential proponents of orange and purple.
Jamison’s final turn as a counselor won’t be his last foray into working with high schoolers or young people. He has already secured a job with Teach For America, a non-profit organization that enlists, develops and mobilizes future leaders and aims to strengthen educational equity and excellence. Jamison will teach secondary English through the organization.
According to Dr. Cherese Fine, program coordinator for the Charles H. Houston Center, committed counselors like Jamison are one of the main reasons the workshops have been so well received with participants. In 2016, most students came from South Carolina, but students came from as far as Maryland to attend the workshop. Fine said exit surveys from last year’s workshop clearly demonstrated a positive reaction to the program, with results indicating that interest in the program increased for 94 percent of students in the workshop due to content delivered throughout their stay in Clemson.
“These students tell us the program was one of the main reasons they decided to attend Clemson, and Deion’s experience is what we’re ultimately going for,” Fine said. “We want students who attend Clemson because of the workshops to do their part to guide the next class of seniors in their pursuit of higher education.”
The application deadline to participate in the program is April 21, and eligible students must be ranked in the top 20 percent of their class and be willing to stay the entire length of the program. There is an associated fee of $100, although Fine said scholarships are available for those students who cannot afford the fee.
The application deadline for counselors in the program is April 17. Counselors will receive a $700 stipend and must be a current Clemson student or recent graduate willing to stay in dorms with the students. Fine said the only other prerequisite to be a counselor is a passion for working with youth and a diverse student population. She said these counselors would serve as leaders and mentors, so they should be able to encourage rising seniors to pursue college while also sharing their Clemson experience.
For more information about the Clemson Career Workshop, please visit www.clemson.edu/houston.