Free college planning, graduate with no debt

L-R, Dr. Lewis Brinson, Dr. Mychal and Nina Wynn


BY Dexter McCree, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG –Starting next Monday, Gibbs High School will be the home of a free four-day boot camp aimed at helping high school seniors prepare for college.

Led by author, educator, motivational speaker and college planning expert Dr. Mychal Wynn, the boot camp, which has been launched across the globe, will make its way to St. Pete where students will gain expert college admission and scholarship guidance with an actionable plan to guide them throughout their journey.

College Planning“There is no time to do the work once the school year begins,” said the “Ten Steps to Helping Your Child Succeed in School” author. “We help students develop a strategic plan by the fourth day of the boot camp.”

Students will get help finding the right college fit, identify the best college majors and apply for scholarships such as Gates Millennium, Stamps, Jack Kent Cook and Ron Brown.

Seniors who attend the College Planning Boot Camp will begin their final year of high school with a comprehensive college admission and scholarship plan that includes a common application, high-quality résumé, biographical essays and a well-researched college and scholarship lists.

From June 18-21, students will also have the opportunity to receive guidance on the best admission cycles to apply based on their college choice, body of work and family’s financial need.

“Make sure there are no empty seats in the room on June 18. We have to own this opportunity to position the students in our community and schools to benefit what Mr. Wynn is bringing to us,” stated Dr. Lewis Brinson, Pinellas County Schools Minority Achievement Officer, who is responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing initiatives to close all achievement gaps.

The boot camp is a part of the College Planning Cohort™ program designed to complement the role and fill the void of high school counselors by helping students and families develop strategies to maximize the K-12 experience, become competitive admission applicants and qualify for scholarships.

Most students do not have enough interaction with their guidance counselors to plan the many specific details of the college planning process. While teachers are paid to teach academic subjects, counselors have a responsibility to develop relationships with students to help them excel in areas such as college and career readiness and preparation.

Working with such a large number of students, it is difficult for counselors to provide one-on-one long-term college planning and scholarship guidance.

Many of the students who go unnoticed usually come from lower-income backgrounds, first in their family to attend college, immigrants, undocumented or simply overwhelmed with the college planning process.

The boot camp curriculum will guide students in identifying clear and obtainable goals with specific directions to reduce college costs and avoid student loan debt. It is an individualized plan of action.

“The camp focuses on connecting students to different college pathways through community college or directly into a four-year institutions, selective private institutions or state universities based on their academic performance, gifts, talents and financial need,” said Wynn.

Wynn and his wife, Nina, developed the College Planning Cohort ™ boot camp after successfully creating effective strategies for their older son to gain admission to Amherst College and for their younger son to be selected as a 2012 Gates Millennium Scholar.

The Wynns identified a need to share this knowledge with students outside of their family and developed the College Planning Cohort™ model as a means to foster small group support for high school seniors at their church in Marietta, Ga.

Since its inception, the College Planning Boot Camp has been a staple in schools, communities and families. Students have been awarded more than a million dollars in financial assistance.

The no-cost boot camp runs June 18-21 from 9-3 p.m. at Gibbs High School, 850 34th St. S. Materials are free; however, space is limited.

To register, contact Dr. Lewis Brinson at 727-588-6436 or by email at

Jah’Tia Haynes contributed to this story.

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