The cost of a foreign education can be overwhelming, and the competition for admission is so tough it is enough to banish any plan to apply to a college overseas.
And most high schools in the Philippines do not have programs to provide adequate information or resources for these types of opportunities, preventing countless students from pursuing an international education that would help them maximize their potential.
It is often a lack of awareness that keeps Filipinos from studying in the top schools of the world.
Camp (College Admissions Mentors for Peers) Philippines aims to remedy this omission.
The nonprofit student-run group helps students realize their full academic capabilities and to make them aware of the educational opportunities that exist outside the country by assisting them through the college application process.
Starting as an open forum of a moderated Facebook group in early 2012, the program has since grown and expanded. It now has over 750 active members and organizes a variety of events such as college talks, SAT (standardized admission test) boot camps and summer workshops.
Camp also organizes visits every July and August to local high schools like Ateneo de Manila, Miriam College, Paref (Parents for Education Foundation) Woodrose and Philippine Science High School to discuss the pros and cons of studying abroad and to give comprehensive information on admission requirements.
It was, in fact, after their visit to Philippine Science High School that I started thinking seriously about studying abroad, which I had not really considered before my senior year, although my teachers mentioned it in passing a few times.
After listening to a Camp talk at my school, I signed up for its mentoring program. The mentor assigned to me was a Yale undergraduate student.
Through weekly e-mail exchanges I was able to get answers to my specific concerns. He told me what subjects to focus on for the SATs, he proofread my personal essays, and he even helped me research which universities would be most suitable for me.
I can say with absolute certainty that I would not be an incoming freshman at the University of Minnesota without his help. I owe Camp Philippines a lot.
In August, the organization will hold its first ever Camp Conference, a one-day event where a series of presentations will be given on a wide range of college-related matters by teacher, parent and student panelists.
Those who will not be able to attend can access an online version on the Camp Philippines website.
The group has also created a mentoring program that pairs high school students with more experienced college students so that specific concerns could be addressed, like raising SAT scores or choosing topics for personal essays.
Camp Philippines hopes that, by helping Filipino students achieve the best possible education for themselves, they would be able to take what they had learned and give back to the country in the future.
Membership in the group, as well as registration for Camp Conference 2013, is free. For more information you may visit www.campphilippines.org.