AVID helps students pave a path to current and future success


Leanna Gower

The AVID team at Carlmont consists of counselors, teachers, and AVID students all working towards a common goal.

Most students know the stress that comes with being a highschooler all too well. Whether it stems from the workload from classes, the pressure to do well, or the ever-looming idea of life after high school, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the thought of what comes next.

Luckily, Carlmont is one of 7,000 schools that have an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. 

AVID is a nonprofit organization that trains 80,000 educators annually to prepare students for success in college and life while working to close the opportunity gap between individuals. 

Carlmont’s AVID coordinator, Cindy Shusterman, explained that AVID is a built-in support network and family for many students.

“It’s a community that exists to help students forge a path to a four-year college, and the end product is that the students are ultimately successful in college,” Shusterman said. 

AVID works with schools to fulfill their needs, but overall, the program helps students explore their full potential by encouraging them to set goals and work towards them.

The program begins by laying the basis of study skills, note-taking, and organizational techniques during freshman year, then moving on to PSAT prep and SAT prep. Eventually, seniors start to fill out college applications and scholarship work. 

Madison Wong, a Carlmont alumna, graduated in 2019 from Carlmont’s AVID program and is now attending San Jose State University. She expressed her gratitude for the program, as it assisted her both in and outside of school.

“AVID has helped me set goals for myself by helping me realize what I’m passionate about, and what I want to do in the future. For me, that includes going to college and getting my degree, and I can say that AVID motivated me to work hard to make it to where I am now,” Wong said.

AVID isn’t just a place for your goals, it’s a place where you can go and talk about your day or whatever you’re going through … It’s a home away from home that I’ve grown to love.”

— Mia Messina, junior

Statistics reported by the AVID website show that 94% of AVID students complete the four-year college entry requirements, and 90% of students who apply are accepted into four-year colleges.

“A lot of students just really want to go to a four-year college, and the goal is to boost them up and get them there,” said Tammy De Paoli, Carlmont’s AVID and head counselor.

As the sole counselor for AVID, De Paoli finds it particularly convenient that her students have the same class period. Such provides an excellent time to pull students and work with them individually, in a group, or with the teacher.

Although the goal of AVID isn’t specifically to prepare students for a four-year college, De Paoli works hard to ensure that her students will have that option by helping with course requirements and class schedules. 

“De Paoli’s office was always open, and she played a huge role in helping me succeed. She helped me choose the right classes to graduate and attend college, and offered any extra support I might need,” Wong said.

Sergio Contreras, a sophomore in AVID, says he doesn’t go to De Paoli often but knows she is a great person to turn to for anything from course selections to battling the stress of high school.

Overall, it seems that having a centralized counselor for AVID students is beneficial for everyone, as De Paoli knows the pressures that students face as they look towards the future.

“The stress of high school and competitive colleges can be enough stress, especially on top of a high schooler’s everyday life,” De Paoli said.

The purpose of AVID is to prepare students for what comes after high school, since there’s not someone telling you what to do and how to do it.”

— Camille Erskine, AVID teacher

However, De Paoli isn’t the only one with an AVID team. Each AVID class is known to be a “family,” bonding over the four years they spend working together. 

“The first year can be the toughest in regards to building a family because of the new faces and personalities. As time goes on, everyone gets to know each other and grows comfortable around one another, and people help and build off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Contreras said. 

Throughout the four years, AVID students build a community where they don’t have to worry about added stress or unwanted outside influence.

“AVID isn’t just a place for your goals, it’s a place where you can go and talk about your day or whatever you’re going through. It’s a place where you can be yourself and completely safe, not worrying about any judgment. It’s a home away from home that I’ve grown to love,” said Mia Messina, a junior in AVID.

Some classes even have written class norms decided on by the students, who are responsible for upholding those ideals, which ultimately creates a safe environment in which students can learn, meet new people, and grow.

“I learned to love the amazing people in my class, that I might not have met if it weren’t for AVID. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned and the people who’ve helped me get there. Without AVID, I probably wouldn’t be in the place I am now,” Wong said.