With all respect to everyone’s best intentions, I’ve never known any of those end-of-the-year assessment methods to do any good. By the time you create the evaluation form and wordsmith the statements to everyone’s liking, the life just leaks out of it. You may have data which is impressive, but ask anyone what they would do to make things better, and they’ll refer you to page 32 of the computer-generated report—and that’s not really an answer.
Then there’s the real assessment that occurs. Somewhere around 1:30 on a sunny June day, teachers head to their cars with their Solo cup of buzz-free punch from the staff luncheon, start the car, and heave a sigh of gratitude, relief, and anticipation. Between that sigh and the time they hit the parking lot exit, they will categorize each of the following:
• What went well
• What could have been better
• What they’d like to do more of next year
This is especially true when it comes to college counseling. Throughout the year, counselors take to social media to express concern, vent, or simply whine about the inequities of the college advising process in the US. Newbies share the watershed moment when they discover the current system is unfair. Mid-career counselors air their dismay of the Ivy League rejection of the best kid in their class. Veterans take the opportunity to raise their concerns about issues they’ve long disliked, often sharing a tentative outline of how this issue could, at least in their eyes, be resolved.
I’d invite you to all take up that last approach to our work in earnest this summer, using your parking lot assessment to guide you. Take a look at the statement below, then put together a 600-word (more or less) answer you think could increase college access and equity. Your answer needs to address the question in particular; it should include some data or otherwise indicate this problem lives somewhere else besides just your school or your head, and it needs to address the current social and political climate to explain why this new approach stands a chance at being accepted, and will make a difference.
I’ll be the sole judge of each submission, and each submission could become part of future columns (I’ll give credit for ideas where appropriate). The idea I think makes the most sense will be judged the winner, which means the idea becomes a column for sure—and the winning author gets $250.
We always say there has to be a better way to help kids make college a reality. I’m hoping a little cash will encourage you to give a little air to that wish this summer. For more information on how to submit, go to the College is Yours website.
Here’s the question. Now, pass those sweet cherries, and get writing. It’s summer in Michigan once again.
Jamie is a 14-year-old student living in a large city. Jamie’s 15-year-old cousin Blaine lives in a rural area, some 100 miles from the nearest college campus. Both come from single parent households, with Jamie’s mom holding down three jobs just to pay the rent, and Blaine’s dad making just enough from his crops each year to stave off bankruptcy. Both attend a public high school where the one school counselor meets the social/emotional, academic, and career and college plans of 1800 students, and both come from homes where they would be the first in their families to go to college.
What would the college admissions process look like if we assume every student had the backgrounds and resources of Jamie and Blaine?