Cherokee Nation Foundation offers college, ACT prep camps

Senior Reporter
02/08/2019 11:15 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Jennifer Sandoval, Cherokee Nation Foundation program coordinator, teaches an ACT Prep Class in March 2018 at Carl Albert State College’s Sallisaw campus to area high school students. The ACT Prep Class gives students the opportunity to take pre-tests before they take the actual exams. ARCHIVE
Main Cherokee Phoenix
High school students prepare for the spring ACT exam in March 2018 during the Cherokee Nation Foundation’s ACT Prep Class at Carl Albert State College’s Sallisaw campus. ARCHIVE
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Attending the Cherokee Nation Foundation’s ACT Prep Camp can help college-bound students fill in more of the correct circles on the test. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Yale sophomore Sophia Ross said attending the 2016 Cherokee College Prep Institute helped her discover the array of options open to her for higher education. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – College-bound Cherokee students who want to add punch to their applications are invited to apply to a pair of annual camps the Cherokee Nation Foundation organizes.

Open to high school juniors and seniors, the ACT Prep Camp is June 3-8, and students preparing for the college application process can attend the Cherokee College Prep Institute on July 14-19. The camps are on Northeastern State University’s Tahlequah campus and open to any Cherokee student in the United States. Space is limited.

ACT Prep provides 15 hours of instruction before students take the official test at its conclusion. Campers stay in student housing during the week.

“They are matched with another person and get to experience a week of college life,” Jennifer Sandoval, CNF program coordinator, said. “Years ago, I was trained to teach the Princeton Review curriculum, and that is what (the campers) receive. They go through about three or four hours of prep a day, and we teach the different approaches to taking the ACT, including process of elimination and time management.”

Sandoval said the camps remove some anxiety associated with taking the ACT and help students gain familiarity and comfort.

“We also teach them that you can focus on your strengths,” she said. “You don’t need spectacular scores through the top on all four tests.”
Students attend workshops on topics of scholarships, financial aid, essay writing and admissions.
Applications to the ACT Prep are accepted April 1-21. There is no fee to attend. Camp costs are covered via a CNF and NSU partnership.

“We do ask if they are flying or driving in that they pay for their travel expenses, but once the students are here, we pay for everything,” Sandoval said.

The Cherokee College Prep Institute allows students to meet with admissions officials from universities across the country. Attendees can examine their schools of interest and scholarship opportunities and receive advice on completing college applications.

Yale University sophomore Sophia Ross, a 2017 graduate of La Jolla (Califorina) High School, attended the 2016 CCPI at Rogers State University in Claremore.

“It is important for people to know how great an opportunity CCPI is for Native students, not just Cherokee students in Oklahoma, but in the rest of the country,” said Ross, who plans to major in neuropsychology and pre-med. “It is important for kids like me, who are not from Oklahoma, to know those camps are there to help us prepare for our futures.”

Ross said many Native students do not have access to college advisers due to costs. At CCPI, she had one-on-one conversations and instruction with admissions officers from several schools, including Ivy League universities. Ross said she was given information she otherwise “would have had no idea about.”

“At the camp, the most memorable thing was speaking to an adviser,” Ross said. “I had no belief that I would be able to get into these schools. She read my essay and said I had a high chance of getting in, and that she wanted to help me improve to make that possibility even higher. I actually believed in myself that I could do it.”

All materials, lodging and meals are covered at CCPI, and there is no fee to attend.

While Oklahoma schools are always well represented, the CCPI also attracts schools out of state.

“We try to tell students that during college prep they may find out that going to an Ivy school or private school can be less expensive than attending an in-state school,” Sandoval said. “If you are a first-generation college student or Native, there are a lot of scholarships. It may not be the case that you need to stay close to home. When we do the financial aid presentation, there might be only one scholarship available for an in-state school, while you can get nearly a full ride to a Duke or a Penn.”

CCPI applications are accepted from March 1 to May 15.

“We try to take applicants first-come, first served, but we do require them to write an essay, so there is a little competition,” Sandoval said. “We also take into consideration why they want to attend the camps.”

Janice Randall, CNF executive director, said every effort is made to ensure the camps give students head starts on college admissions.

“Jennifer doesn’t like to brag, but she is young and she bonds with these students,” Randall said. “The camps are very intense and the students work on them all day long. We have had students that really improve their scores on the ACT, sometimes by as much as 10 points in a subject area. That is amazing.”

Applications for both camps are available at For information, call 918-207-0950 or email or visit the CNF at 800 S. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.
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