March 6th, 2015
I visited with a group of high school students recently, trying to get them to focus on their futures.
Failing to focus is not an option.
Afterward, their advisor became emotional when he talked about a couple of seniors who had not applied to any colleges or for any grants or scholarships, and they were asking him for help. It was the end of February.
How can that happen? How can seniors not realize they must make a concerted effort to map out their next moves?
Then I remembered my boys, neither of whom probably would have applied anywhere for anything if I had not ridden them to the finish line. They simply were not self-motivated.
At least one group is hoping to help students and their parents with this. The Lexington Urban League Young Professionals is hosting the 11th annual Lifting and Impacting Futures Today, or LIFT, Conference on March 14, which targets middle and high school students and their parents for a crash course on preparing for higher education or job training.
“Education is the tool if they are going to get ahead in anything,” said Stacey Harris, conference committee chairwoman. “You used to be able to graduate from high school and get a good job. Now, sometimes a bachelor’s degree is not enough.”
Whether students are headed to a trade school or college, there are a few obstacles or detours the conference can help them and their parents navigate.
Financial literacy skills will be presented to middle school students in one workshop. Presenters “will talk about starting to save their money and being more self-conscious of their money,” Harris said. “If they are getting an allowance, they don’t go out and blow it. Set some back. Think about not spending every single penny.”
Other workshops will concentrate on the courses they should take, on their plans, and on cultural biases that might sidetrack them. There will be team-building activities that attempt to bring students out of their comfort zones and allow them to express themselves.
For high school students, workshops will focus on the effect of social media on their future.
The #Breaktheinternet workshop warns students about social etiquette, Harris said.
“Don’t put all your business out there,” she said. “Businesses are looking and colleges are looking” at postings on social media.
Male and female presenters will conduct the #Firstimpressions workshop that targets students manner of dress, their résumés and interviewing skills. Other workshops will highlight financial literacy and the need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, each year; cultural biases and envisioning your dreams.
Plus, #AnimalCSI will feature an animal pathologist and lab animals, and #Behindthelines will focus on life after athletics.
While their children are attending those workshops, parents will receive a valuable lesson on filling out the FAFSA from a Kentucky Education Association member, who will walk them through it.
Other workshops for parents include distractions that can hinder a college career, and information about underage drinking and other activities that might occur when the child leaves home.
Maybe best of all, parents will get help looking for traditional and nontraditional scholarships.
Breakfast will be catered by Waffle House, and lunch will be catered by Le Petite Bijou Catering. Door prizes will be given at the end of the day, along with three book scholarships. Information about various colleges and universities will be available.
The young professionals started the LIFT Conference to give students a preview of the college experience and give college recruiters a chance to develop a relationship with students.
The first two years of the conference were hosted at the University of Kentucky before it moved to Transylvania University for seven years. This is the second year the conference will be at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and the first year at its Newtown Pike campus.
The preregistration deadline is Friday. Register at Lift2015.eventbrite.com. Students and parents also may register the day of the conference.
“Every year we have a different theme,” Harris said. “This year it is #WeGotNow. We have now to prepare for their future. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.”
IF YOU GO
11th annual LIFT Conference hosted by the Lexington Urban League Young Professionals.
When: 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. March 14
Where: Bluegrass Community and Technical College, 500 Newtown Pike
Registration: Go to
Lift2015.eventbrite.com through March 6 or register day of the conference.
Information: (859) 381-4234, (859) 381-3532 or (859) 381-4178.