Wednesday, October 28, 2015

20 Questions About Your College Counseling Program

By:  Patrick O'Connor  Ph.D

Many high schools are celebrating College Application Week this fall, a time when the entire school focuses on the possibilities that await students in pursuing some kind of college option after high school.  CAW is a great time to promote the college search programs and other services your office has for students of all ages and their parents.  It’s also a perfect time to make sure your teaching colleagues have a clear sense of how the college selection process works in your school, and the vital role they plan in it.

CAW also offers a chance for you to reflect on your offerings and services, and see how well they are meeting students’ needs.  To help achieve that goal, I offer these 20 questions for your consideration.  There’s nothing scientific about these questions; they just address some of the key pieces of a college counseling program students need to know about in order to make the transition as personalized as possible.

Here goes—feel free to add your questions in the Comments section:

1.     Do you have a written overview of your college counseling program, with goals, objectives, and activities for every grade in your building?

2.     Does your program include an annual process for evaluating your college counseling program, and using the results to modify the program? Does this evaluation include feedback from parents and students?

3.     Do you have unencumbered access to data that will help you identify populations underserved by your college counseling program?
4.     Do you meet annually with your principal to review your college counseling program?
5.     Do you have an avenue for organizing the data received from students and colleges regarding admissions decisions and scholarship awards?
6.     Have you reviewed the information in your curriculum on standardized testing to reflect current trends, including the rise of test-optional colleges?
7.     Does your curriculum give equal consideration to certificate, two-year, and four-year college options?

8.     Does your curriculum help students explore the option of not going to college, or taking gap year?

9.     Does your curriculum include instruction in college readiness skills, such as study skills?

10.  Does your curriculum utilize the expertise of college admissions officers, financial aid administrators, and other college personnel?

11.  Does your curriculum utilize the expertise of classroom faculty, administrators, and other high school personnel outside your department?

12.  Does your curriculum utilize the expertise of parents, community-based groups, and other organizations in your community?

13.  Do you have a Counseling Advisory Committee to help support and guide the direction of your college counseling program?

14.  Does your curriculum have a plan for keeping in touch with students in the summer to avoid “summer melt”?

15.  Do you have some kind of technology based communication method to convey college news to your families (Web site, weekly newsletter, texting tree, etc.?)

16.  Does your curriculum include evening programs that are available on tape for absent students and parents to view at a later time?

17.  Compared to the other educators in your building, do you have more unrelated administrative duties to complete in addition to your counseling work?

18.  Do you have a policy on colleges visiting your high school that yields effective, well-attended information sessions?

19.  Do you meet regularly with counseling colleagues in elementary and middle school to review your K-12 college counseling program?

20.  Do you have access the professional development needed to stay current in your college counseling practice?

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