The State of Delaware would like to see more high school seniors apply to college. Therefore, the Del. Department of Education has piloted "College Application Week," which began today, at Lake Forest and Smyrna high schools.

Lake Forest High School seniors spent first and second periods applying for colleges online Monday morning with the help of guidance counselors and volunteers from the state's universities and colleges as part of College Application Week.

The Delaware Department of Education selected Lake Forest and Smyrna high schools for a pilot on College Application Week in the Diamond State to encourage every student to submit at least one college application, DOE spokeswoman Alison Kepner said. The Department of Education sponsored the event as part of the state's College Access Grant Challenge initiative, she said.

College Application Week is a nationwide effort to increase the number of high school seniors bound for college.

At Lake Forest High, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.), lauded the state's push for increased college attendance.

Carper told Lake Forest students that his parents never went to college and he applied too late to the U.S. Air Force Academy. However, he ended up attending Ohio State University through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and everything worked out.

Carper urged students to take advantage of the help they were getting Monday morning.

Carney said the state's SEED and Aspire scholarships had helped several students attend the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Tech as well.

"One of the things that we know is that the jobs of the future that you're going to be looking for four or five years from now are going to require some kind of education beyond high school," Carney said.

Lake Forest High sends about 40 percent to 45 percent of its graduates to college, but the goal is to increase those figures, Lake Forest High Principal John Filicicchia said.

"Completion of a college application can be a daunting task, and we're happy to work with the Department of Education and all of the local universities and colleges to be certain that our seniors are college bound," he said.

Among the students searching for colleges Monday morning was Lake Forest senior Ethan Simpson, of Harrington. Simpson had applied to Black Hawk College in Illinois, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical & Community College. He had already been accepted to University of Northwestern Ohio.

"The school's paying for one application – any one of our choice," Simpson said. "I'm glad they started doing this. I have two younger brothers coming up. I hope they keep doing it for them."

Indeed, Lake Forest High School would pay for one college application, provided students met the requirements of that school, Lake Forest Guidance Department chair Ivy Truitt said. In addition, any of the students who ended up applying to Delaware Tech or Wesley College during College Application Week had their application fee waived, she said.

Among the other students who also began their quests to find the right colleges were Lake Forest seniors Anastasia Tucker and Robert Ortiz. Ramos and Tucker both applied to DSU, Delaware Tech and Salisbury University.

Tucker was glad that Lake Forest offered to pay for one college application as a way to kick start students' college searches.

"I think it's cool that they're doing that because I haven't done any applications," she said. "Now, I am."

Wesley College admissions counselor Anna Keane helped the Lake Forest students with not just applications to Wesley to but to any college. Keane said she would work with Lake Forest staff to obtain high school transcripts and SAT scores to give applicants an answer in as soon as a week.

"I've been talking with their guidance counselors and already got transcripts and SATs for a couple of students," Keane said. "I'm going to take them back to the office and we'll get them processed. We're trying to give them a head start in this process so they can enjoy their senior year."