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Cheers could be heard from all angles of the room every few minutes, but this was nothing strange.

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Cheers could be heard from all angles of the room every few minutes, but this was nothing strange.

The repeated celebration came from hundreds of Chicago high school students who continued to receive on-site admission from college representatives.

The 5th Annual Onsite College Admission Forum — hosted by the Chicago Scholars Program — was recently held at the University of Illinois-Chicago forum, with about 70 colleges and universities represented, including Harvard, UCLA, UIC and Claremont Mckenna College.

CSP, a five-year mentoring program that begins in a students senior year of high school, boasts partnerships with 14 community-based organizations, including the Common Ground Foundation.

Eligible students must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, a 20 PLAN score or higher and submit other supplemental materials. They are also required to attend mandatory workshops throughout the school year.

Karen G. Foley, the program’s president, reminisced about how the program started with just 60 students who were awarded a $1000 scholarship and has now grown to more than 500 students.

“I think one of the remarkable things is that we stay with kids all five years, transitioning from high school to college, from college to career,” Foley told the Defender.

“See what our young people are doing who graduated. They’re with Teach for America, they’re in medical school, they’re in investment banking, they’re at Google–they’re all over,” she said, referring to their “hall of fame.”

A Whitney Young student, Kimani Whitsey, said Chicago Scholars helped her tremendously and recommends other students to apply.

“I feel excited that it’s almost over; it helped a lot. We got all of our applications done early so we didn’t have to scramble,” said Whitsey, how has Northwestern University as her top school choice. She plans to double major in mechanical engineering and film production.

Meseret Negash, vice president of CSP, said planning for the celebration took about a year and was pleased with the outcome. The most rewarding part is seeing former students come back to mentor.

“The first group of students I worked with have graduated college this summer and that’s the best part and now they actually come back and mentor so that’s really my biggest take-away,” said Negash.

An admissions counselor with Claremont, who participated for the first time this year, vowed to return next year.

“I’ve been blown away by the number of quality students. They’re all leaders in their own unique ways. They see leadership, they take risks, they’re not afraid to do the right thing,” said Brandon Gonzalez, a Claremont counselor.

Gonzalez said about 20 students impressed him so much he immediately got on the phone with his director to request the school fly the students to California for their admittance day later this month.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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