Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Time To Talk About College? Create a Class!

By: Patrick O'Connor Ph.D

Late June is a time when school counselors think big.  Guided by a desire to increase service to their students, counselors take a minute from the cleaning of files and their year-end reports to consider next year—what could be better, what could be different, what could go easier?

When it comes to college counseling, it isn’t surprising that counselors consider the value of a college counseling class for their students.  Counselors want to talk with more students about college, and students want to focus on college selection with their ever-busy schedules.  A college counseling class meets both these needs, and creates a frequency of counselor-student interaction that’s hard to create with individual appointments or after-school seminars.

If the idea of regularly talking college appeals to you, consider each of these points as you create a proposal to take to your principal:

When will it be offered?  Just like the Biology teacher would love a two-hour block to complete in-depth labs, counselors would love to talk to students daily about college—but if that time can’t be built into the master schedule, it just isn’t going to happen.

This is where a counselor’s expertise in scheduling comes into play.  Is there a required senior course that meets every other day, allowing a college counseling class to fill the empty slots?  Is there an open period in your school’s block schedule where students can choose to study, where a college counseling class would meet an important need? Looking at the master schedule with new eyes could reveal a slot that’s begging to be filled.

If no holes exist, consider spreading the contents through existing classes.  Is there a Life Skills course where a College Counseling unit could be taught?  How about a Health or Careers course?  Many counselors are partnering with English classes to talk about the college essay; is there room there to expand the discussion to other parts of the college selection process?

It may seem backward to consider the shape of a course before creating its contents, but veteran counselors know the schedule drives all—so consider your time limitations first.

What will be covered?  If the goal is to provide a college counseling class where seniors use the time to apply to college, the curriculum is easy, with units on college selection, campus visits, parts of the college application, interviews, and financial aid.  If the course is aimed at juniors, many of these same topics can be addressed, plus test preparation.  A course for younger high school students should be less about application logistics and more about college readiness and awareness, focusing on study skills, extracurricular pursuits, college exploration, and more.  You know the curriculum by heart; build the class to meet the time specifications you have, then supplement the curriculum with field trips, and speakers.

How will it be graded?  This is a class that teaches the value of exploration, and students are less likely to investigate a variety of options if it means getting a bad grade for an option that doesn’t pan out.  It’s wise to make this a Pass/Fail course, based on completion of essential exploration activities and personal reflection, where the student shows evidence that they’ve thought about their plans for life after college; explored a reasonable number of options, and followed through on the options that make the most sense to them—even if that means not going to college.

It’s hard to find the time to meet the college needs of every single senior.  A scheduled college counseling class creates that time for you and your students—consider it closely. 

One last reminder- the online summer college counseling class for school counselors starts Monday, June 23rd.   For more information on the class counselors call “the best counseling class I’ve ever taken”, 

No comments:

Post a Comment