Post High School Panic: EHHS Coordinator Guides Students Through the Difficulties of Life After High

EHHS hired Mr. Austin Telford as career and college readiness coordinator to help juniors and seniors transition into post high school life. Mr. Telford, 23, has recently taken on the position of Senior College Advisor at EHHS and is located in the guidance office. Prior to his position in EHHS, Mr. Telford attended the University of Connecticut (UCONN), majoring in health science and graduating in 2020. Outside of work Mr. Telford enjoys going to the gym and participating in combat sports like boxing and jiu jitsu. He took on these hobbies after watching others perform them in the UFC.

Mr. Telford acquired this position when UCONN reached out to him saying they had a new program with the College Advising Corps which helps students with the college application and financial aid processes. Since this is the first time EHHS has a college coordinator, many students are not aware of what resources he has to offer or even that he is here to offer them. Mr. Telford primarily helps current seniors with creating their Common App account, finding colleges geared towards them, college applications, looking for scholarships, and even resume building and interview preparation for students that want to head straight into the workforce after high school. Mr. Telford is available to help students with the FAFSA process up until they reach the section dealing with parent financials. He also helps seniors get started on their college essays, hoping to push them in the right direction so they can complete it with the help of their English teachers. These resources aren’t available just for seniors; in the second half of the school year, Mr. Telford is looking to work with the junior class as well. He hopes to get juniors started on their Common App accounts early on as well as getting in two or three college campus visits as well. Regarding college visits, he says, “I’ve noticed that a lot of seniors have never visited a college, so I hope I can get that done.” Mr. Telford highlights that he has been working closely with minority students as well as female students, as they have been seeking out his aid the most. However, he would like to let everyone know that he is here to help any and all students, saying, “For any undocumented students, feel free to come to me. There’s an option for you to go to college and receive financial aid. Do not feel like you can’t go because you’re undocumented or your parents are undocumented. I really need to put that out there.”

Assistant Principal Mr. Anthony Russell expands on Mr. Telford’s role in EHHS, saying, “He is taking the lead and supplementing the guidance counselors in trying to help plan students' futures.” Mr. Russell says that Mr. Telford is like an addition to the guidance counselors, dedicated specifically to college and life after high school. He emphasizes that Mr. Telford is not only here to aid with college, but also making sure any avenue after graduation like cosmetology or trade school, is available to students. He explains that Mr. Telford is meeting with students individually and now pushing into classes to reach more students and introduce his work to them. Despite this being the first time someone is here at EHHS as a college and career readiness coordinator, Mr. Russell says that he has had a great experience working with Mr. Telford. Mr. Russell says, “He’s such a gentleman and super nice. He’s very soft spoken and a great addition to our school. I would like to see him work himself into the fabric of culture and climate of EHHS. I want him to become someone that kids feel comfortable coming to and hope he enjoys himself here.” Mr. Russell hopes more students become aware of Mr. Telford’s aid, suggesting going through social media, developing a schedule to push into classes and utilizing assemblies, events, etc.

So far, most seniors who have worked with Mr. Telford have all reported positive feedback. Senior Ethar Al-Hawari has been working frequently with Mr. Telford in preparation for college applications. Ethar expresses that he has found Mr. Telford to be extremely helpful and reliable, saying, “He’s knowledgeable in what he does and I feel comfortable and assured that he knows what he’s doing. He’s really here to help us get to our next level in life and not wasting any time. He’s always willing to help and wants us to succeed, advocating for us and our future education.” Mr. Telford helped Ethar to get accounts ready, build a resume, help choose what kind of essay he should write and guide him on where to apply. Ethar recommends that all students seek out Mr. Telford’s help even if they already think they know what they’re doing: “He can always give good input.” Senior Isabella Martindale also recommends that students go to Mr. Telford for help. She says she was able to get a lot of her FAFSA application done in just an hour with him as he gave her a space to focus on just college documents. Isabella felt her concerns about the application process were validated, saying, “He was attentive and ready to answer any questions I had. He made me feel so much better about any concern I mentioned, [...] often responding light-heartedly and with a sense of calm that I often lack.” Isabella says she felt accomplished after working with Mr. Telford and felt that it eased stress that had been weighing on her shoulders. Any students unsure of where to start in their transition from high school to college, trade school, or even the workforce would benefit from visiting Mr. Telford down in the guidance office.