At a 2004 Real World workshop at the Heidleberg Middle School, volunteer Joyce Ward teaches kids how to organize a portfolio of their school work.

At a 2004 Real World workshop at the Heidleberg Middle School, volunteer Joyce Ward teaches kids how to organize a portfolio of their school work. (Photo courtesy of Juanita Harvin)

The new year is a time of questions for high school seniors who are planning to attend college in the fall. Where will I get in? What should I pick as a major? Where are the best parties held?

To help Department of Defense Dependents Schools students with some of the myriad uncertainties and concerns that arise as the college application season climaxes this month, education officials in Europe are playing host to events to guide seniors through the process.

Next week, students across the DODDS- Europe system will have an opportunity to listen and call in to an American Forces Network radio show about making the move to the States for college. The show will air at 9 a.m. Jan. 12.

The annual broadcast, called “Open Line,” will feature a panel of experts and students talking about ways to successfully make the move to an American university and answering specific questions students face when getting ready to leave home.

It’s about this time of year that seniors begin to get nervous about what it will be like to leave home, said Frank O’Gara, DODDS-Europe spokesman and “Open Line” organizer.

“‘Who’s going to do my laundry?’” students often ask themselves, O’Gara said. “‘How will I do all these things mom and dad did for me in the past?’”

Panel members are encouraged to give honest answers to students’ questions, O’Gara said, even about tricky subjects such as underage drinking and where DODDS falls short in preparing students for college life.

DODDS students cope with a number of unusual challenges when applying to U.S. colleges and universities, such as the difficulty of touring prospective schools and questions about state residency, said Juanita Harvin, school home community partnership director for the Heidelberg, Germany, school district.

Harvin heads up a local effort in Heidelberg — called “The Real World … what are you doing?” — to prepare students for higher education and life beyond high school.

Harvin’s program is planning an event for graduating DODDS seniors at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Heidelberg middle school, part of its monthly series to prepare students to leave the school system.

The event will feature a presentation for students interested in pursuing a career in education or youth services, along with programs on organizing finances and applying for scholarship money.

Harvin stressed that January is an important time for college-bound students and their families, and that it’s never too early to start looking ahead to higher education.

“Students do not realize how important this is, to plan ahead,” Harvin said, warning that, if students fail to plan a future for themselves, “your parents are going to have a plan for you.”

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