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The APARA Project

Mar 23, 2022 | ChangeMaker Projects 2022

Team Name:  APARA

Project Title: The APARA Project

URL of Project: https://replit.com/join/illbshgpnk-andreahurtado1

Video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Jj2yXbXv5U9fggQmWkCbb0C9Gx61X0Qm/view

Write-Up:

College has a massive barrier to entry for many students. With the cost of attendance rising every year, students are finding it increasingly difficult to afford. Higher education is a way out of poverty for countless students, but it’s becoming unattainable. 

Besides the financial aspect of college, the public school system doesn’t do a good job of informing students of the college application and financial aid process. There aren’t enough public school counselors or resources to help every student. Many students (especially first generation, low income students) can’t afford college advisors. Public high school students are being thrown into a process that they don’t understand while being expected to know what to do. 

Our project helps prepare high schoolers for college. It compensates for the absence of college prep in public schools by taking students through the college application process. Our website covers financial aid, college applications, college costs, and helpful resources. 

For students that don’t know about applying to college or paying for it, this website serves as a great introduction. Our comprehensive articles inform students about aspects of college that aren’t mentioned often in school. Most seniors don’t know what a CSS Profile is until they begin applying for college, for example. Furthermore, the APARA project website gives them the tools necessary to continue to educate themselves. The links and extra downloadable content that we provide are meant to facilitate our users’ exploration of higher education. 

Although the college calculator in the website is targeted at students in Florida, the APARA project website is meant to be used for all high schoolers. Though seniors will benefit the most from our project, students from other grade levels will also find our information useful. 

Miami is home to many low-income first-generation students. Lack of college prep and lack of money prevents many of them from going to the college they want or finding the best college for them. 

Our project will provide these students a handbook that hopefully mitigates this issue. It offers students a thorough explanation of the basics of financial aid and the college application process. The students at all the campuses of our school, School for Advanced Studies, will especially take advantage of the information we provide. Students are also able to contact us for additional help. We’ll welcome every confused or lost student and guide them to the best of our abilities.

As a team we learned the importance of organization. We learned to work together in order to produce a meaningful resource. Organization includes having a neat shared google drive folder, setting deadlines, writing structured code (so that the next programmer understands), and communicating effectively.

The biggest challenge was building the college cost calculator. Our optimal calculator is one able to accurately replicate the calculators provided on the university websites (Florida schools for now). The calculators from the school websites have an extensive range of data (e.g. data from FAFSA) that we don’t posses. It was challenging to build a calculator without the accurate data to back it up. The questions we asked still show students the kind of information they’ll be asked during their college application process.

The most rewarding part of our project was our teamwork. It was hard for us to simultaneously maintain our grades in our AP and dual enrollment classes and have lots of time to work on the project. It was nice to see everyone finding any free time gaps they have in the day and night to work on the project. When one of us is in class, the other with free time is working on the project. When one of us is busy with extracurriculars or homework, someone else is filling up for them. Late at night when most of us are sleeping, someone is up putting their contribution. It was heartwarming to see the team demonstrate immense dedication.