CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On July 12-15, students from high schools including Fayetteville, Independence, Liberty, Midland Trail, Oak Hill, Shady Springs, Valley, Winfield and Woodrow Wilson attended the College Summit summer workshop at Marshall University.
College Summit is a nonprofit organization that collaborates with schools to ensure that students are more aware of the college experience. It works with students to increase college enrollment rates and college readiness.
"The workshop is full of helpful information that prepares you fully for the parts of college that no one ever talks about," said Woodrow Wilson student Tori Peck. "Their portion on FAFSA was awesome, and it was something I really needed to know.
"Also, College Summit builds more than friendships; it builds bonds. It creates relationships that you keep for a lifetime. It changes you, and for the better."
College Summit isn't just a time to learn about college, it is also a time for bonding. Students come from different schools, different beliefs and different races, and when they get there, they usually only know a few people. However, by the time they leave the four-day workshop, they're not just friends; they're family.
"At first, I thought it was gonna be cheesy, and I was going to just be annoyed," admitted Hadila Jeter from Woodrow Wilson. "But by the end of it, I was amazed at how life-changing it was. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to attend the awesome program."
Most of those who attended the workshop agree that it was a life-changing experience. Talking to the other students there may make you realize that you shouldn't take your family, friends or even life for granted. You may even learn to grow as a person.
"You meet a lot of new people, and it really gives you an opportunity to take a step outside of your comfort zone," said Matt Whiteside from Valley High School.
"I was very excited that I was able to go to College Summit, and I am very excited for the reunion!" exclaimed Shady Springs student Ashley Hamilton. "I met a lot of amazing people there, and even if it was only four days, after that it felt like I've known them for way longer."
The workshop doesn't just make an impression on the students, either. Those who help run it are also touched.
"I'm committed to this organization for the rest of my life," said Atish Baidya, who served as a writing coach. "It's an organization with an amazing soul, filled with love, and it shows in everything they do."
The last day at College Summit was very emotional for everyone. No one was ready to leave their newly made friends, which were now like family. At College Summit, no one is judged, no one talks about you behind your back, no one makes fun of you and no one teases you. It's OK to be yourself and let go of your worries.
"I would recommend College Summit to any and every student," Peck said. "College Summit was an amazing experience, and I would do it over and over and wouldn't change a thing."
Although most students won't see each other again until the reunion, they know they have gained lifelong friends. Your College Summit family will always be there for you, no matter what.