The counseling office is one of the departments I have the honor of overseeing. I am willing to admin that, when I was in the classroom as a teach, I did not really understand what the counselors did. I did not utilize my guidance counselor much when I was in high school, so I did not realize the resource that was available to me. Counselors are educators who go through extensive training to do exactly what their name says: counsel. Whether it is about the courses to take for the next school year, where to apply to college, dealing with difficult emotional issues, bullying, troubles at home, teen pregnancy, eating disorders...pretty much anything there has been an after school special about, counselors are on the front line. They are a wonderful resource and connecting point to a multitude of additional resources. That is one thing I wish I had know when I was in high school, or as a teacher.
We have had college nights in the past, but typically it was in January and for seniors in high school. By that point, college applications and financial aid forms should have already been completed and it makes the usefulness of the evening moot for most parents and students. The counselors came to me with an idea...have a college night much earlier in the year...and invite parents of juniors to attend as well. I told them to run with it. They came up with the sessions, the speakers, the plan, and the logistics for the entire evening. In fact, I am writing this post as the parents and students are in one of the sessions. To improve things, we have an evaluation form for the parents and students to complete so we can make sure that future nights will be designed to better fit the needs and desires of the our families.
I thought it was fantastic that the counselors wanted to get families involved earlier in the process and not wait until the student was in 12th grade to begin thinking about college. I want to take it a step further.When is the time that students should being thinking about their post-high school plans? As a parent, I think that it should begin before the child is conceived, but if we start them thinking about specifics when they are freshman, that can be very useful. There is a slogan being kicked around the have a College 101 night. I say make it College and Career 101and let's go with it.
College and Career 101 can be for the 9th grade students and parents. Further events in the year can be named College and Career 102, 103, etc. For our 10th grade students and parents, we advance to College and Career 201; 11th graders will get College and Career 301; 12th graders get College and Career 401. Which brings me to the title of the post...What do I wish that I had known?
This is the question I want to pose to our parents and our students who have gone through this series of events this year. Their wishes for information will help us design the 9-12 College and Career preparation curriculum. I want to include the student voices to help guide our underclassmen through this high school process to help them be the best prepared for whatever their post-secondary plans may hold.
What do you wish you had known?