Welcome to the Advising Corps blog! We hope you will check back frequently and that this blog will be filled with useful and helpful information regarding college admissions, financial aid resources and information about our efforts in the realms of college access and success.
We encourage you to post comments and questions, as this will be the best way for us to make sure we address your concerns and meet your needs.
Thanks for reading, and we're glad you're here!
It's colorful, it's vibrant, and consistently full of smiling faces from youth and adults alike; the Youth Center at Skyline High School in Oakland, California is like nowhere I've ever had the privilege of working. And as the year progresses, I find myself already missing the very place that I've only really been a part of for 4 months. The impact that this center has had on my vision and hopes for our youth has been powerful.
When I stumbled onto the campus grounds, I admittedly dreaded starting over; although this is my second year as an adviser with UC Berkeley's Destination College/EAOP program, Skyline is the second school that I will be servicing as we are no longer at my former site. The idea of having to re-create all those working relationships with students, teachers, parents, and staff, exhausted me before the year started! But like everything in life, and especially in life within Advising Corps, you have to roll with the punches. There is no choice but to deal with change and the mentality I've come to stand by is: deep breath, exhale, and get to work.
However, the Youth Center has made getting to work easier than expected - with a staff that truly understands what it takes to serve a community like Oakland, my job has been challenging but doable because of the model that the Youth Center follows. Everything here is self-sustaining: staff help mold, build, create leaders out of students who often don't get an opportunity to flex the skills and talents they possess, and students keep the staff grounded with the realities of what they need in order to be successful.
I am able to supplement the Youth Center's objectives by providing students with a college knowledge piece that complements the center's needs, allowing me to be a visible staff member on campus. I feel like they've created a community within the school that is truly exemplary and to be a part of it is…refreshing. Just recently, the Youth Center organized a Holiday Decorating Party where students were invited to come give it a more homey feel for the holidays. Students made fliers, spread the word, encouraged each other to get involved in creating an environment that is welcoming for all; even I could be found on a ladder helping fix lights gone awry. With over 40 participants, the Youth Center now blinks with holiday lights, complete with student-made ornaments hanging from the wires. And all the while, as students come and go from the Youth Center, my office door remains open, giving them a peek into walls decorated with college pennants, posters, and a copy of my diploma that proudly hangs on the inside and outside of my door.
This is what education should be about. Fostering the skills within our youth to provide them with the tools they need to be successful in their communities and beyond. Many Oakland students are interested in college but don't know that it's something within their reach; and the simple fact that my office lies within that same safe space that Youth Together's Youth Center has created enables me to grab and hang on to those who may be ready to loosen their grip. It works here. Things click, people click, it clicks. The past 4 months have flown by and I can't wait to see what our collaborative will be able to accomplish for the spring.
Hi all! My name is Kristi Lozano and I am from the Bay Area, California. If there is one word to describe me, I think "random" sums it all up. I grew up in an incredibly diverse household - my mother is Japanese and my father is Mexican! As a result, I was blessed to be raised in a very accepting environment. I had always excelled in academics but when I was younger, my true passion was gymnastics. I trained hard for over 10 years before having to quit due to...old-ageness! The life of a gymnast is short but the lessons I learned from it are timeless. I truly believe that my dedication in the gym and all the lessons I learned from it - perseverance, hard work, and enthusiasm - taught me how to be a fighter. Those qualities were essential to my success in a math and science program and life in general!
My advice to you all: Work hard. Never Quit. Enjoy the struggle!
Here's a pic of me and my gramps!
The season for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is rapidly approaching! As a second year adviser, I can tell you that FAFSA season is a truly bittersweet process. For many of our students, going to college wouldn't be possible without filing the FAFSA and for others, it's a nightmare! And lastly, the most intimidating part of all is that in 99.5% of the time, we need the parental support to make this happen. Unlike the College Application, the FAFSA requires not only the parents’ cooperation, but initiative on the part of the parents. Being the weird adviser that I am, I actually take great joy in helping parents wrap their heads around the FAFSA. I've also learned a thing or two about working with parents on the FAFSA that I hope will be useful to you as you move forward this winter...
Rule #1: They're just as scared as you are.
- Let's face it: the FAFSA, even though highly simplified from 20 years ago when some of your parents were filing, is still very intimidating. For this reason, understand that these parents may be feeling just as intimated as you are. Many parents, especially those that have never attended college, will feel that the FAFSA is a foreign form that asks complicated questions about tax information that they not completely understand. Just because they file their taxes doesn't mean that they understand them!
- Take solace in knowing that you'll be going through this together; it's a process for everyone involved.
Rule #2: Being young is an asset.
- You are tech savvy. There are many technological barriers when it comes to filing the FAFSA: parents may not have access to proper internet services or updated software programs Keep these things in mind and try to organize events either at the school or a place where the technology will be most up to date, to speed up and make the process a little easier on everyone.
- You (most likely) have recent experience with filing the FAFSA. Do not forget how important that is! Even though you may not feel ready to help others with their financial situations, keep in mind that you have a huge amount of knowledge because you have been through it. Don't underestimate that.
Rule #3: They want your help! (And need it)
- Even though parents might not admit it, they need your help and want your help. Emphasize that you are available to support them. It can take parents a while to "warm up" to you, but keep reaching out and emphasizing that you are here to help.
Rule #4: YOU are the Expert.
- There's a lot of misinformation out there. Keep reminding yourself that you are, in fact, an expert at this. As advisers, we have access to the most up-to-date information about the FAFSA. You (most likely) know these forms better than the counselors and the teachers in our school. Be sure to communicate with your school staff that you are available to assist and ask them to refer students to you! Also, make sure to actually listen and take notes in your financial aid webinars. You need to know this stuff to the best of your ability.
- But don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." If you don't know an answer: that's ok. Tell the parents that you will find out and BE SURE to follow up! Even experts learn things from time to time. College financial aid offices and your fellow advisers are great places to look for answers in those unusual question situations.
Finally, keep in mind that you were hired for this job because you are capable. FAFSA season can be really fun if you allow it to be. And, in the end, you may come out with more trust gained from these parents and maybe they'll even feel a little empowered! You are less intimidating than a financial aid counselor. In my experience, we are more approachable to more willing to actually help parents’ and students file these forms. Good luck!
Hello my name is Bethany and I am a second-year college adviser working in Newaygo High Schooo. I was born and raised in Greenville, MI. I recently graduated from Michigan State University (’11). I earned a B.A. from the James Madison College, a residental college for public policy and international affairs.
A little bit about me: At MSU, I studied abroad twice. I have studied in London, England and Accra, Ghana (West Africa). I also worked in Washington, D.C. during my junior year at MSU. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking the North Country Trail, kayaking and volunteering at the Newaygo County Museum.
As the first person in my family to go to college, I understand the unique challenges that first-generation students face when pursuing higher education. I am excited and proud to be providing service to students and families in Newaygo!
One of the interesting things about the Texas application process is that most of the schools use the same three essays for admission purposes. They are included in our Texas equivalent of the Common App, ApplyTexas. There’s essay A, B, and C. Essay A is about someone who has made an impact on you and why they are important. Essay B deals with choosing an issue of importance to you and discussing the significance of that issue. The last essay, C, is a catch-all for students to write about what is important to them and can include everything from opportunities to hardships and how it has affected them academically or personally. This means that colleges receive heavy amounts of Essay A & B that are very similar.
The biggest issue with essays, whether they be for admissions or scholarships, is that students don’t want to write them, and when they do write them, they usually choose the path of least resistance, ie, the first thing that comes to their mind. Take for example, Essay A. I would say that at least 70% of my students write about a parent, which makes for about 120 essays about a parent (if you assume 50% of my senior class is writing essays). And that’s just for my one school. Imagine how many essays college admissions has to read overall and how many of them are about parents. At first, I started trying to tell students they shouldn’t write about their parents, then realized that sounds incredibly mean now matter how nicely you say it: “How dare you write an essay about why your parent is important to you?” So, I switched tactics. Now when I’m discussing essays with students, I tell them to think about the first person/idea they want to write about and then to NOT use that idea. Then I ask them to think of a second person or idea, and I tell them they probably shouldn’t write about that one either.
By this point they’re giving me looks that say, “Do you even want me to write this essay?” Well, yes, yes I do. I then explain that college recruiters and admissions offices read so many similar essays that the student needs to make an effort to stand out. I try to feed them some ideas: “Is there a cartoon or movie character that has ever made you question something or change your mind on a topic? Has there ever been a book that has affected you emotionally? Choose a character from it! It could even be a historical individual. If you want to go with a parent or family member, you definitely can, but you will definitely need to work harder to make your essay stand out.” I then usually tell them a story of who I would have written about, just to give them an example.
I think this process of not choosing the first or even second idea makes students dig a little deeper and be a little more creative in their essays, which is positive for both them, and the people reading their essay.
Josh Barham is an adviser with the Texas College Advising Corps. He helps mentor and guide students in regards to their college and career choices, and occasionally makes videos about it. He also now blogs about it as well.
Just hearing the term alone, “Personal Statement,” can be daunting for high school seniors. The only information that most seniors seem to have about the personal statement is that it’s important and that it helps determine if you’ll get into a certain college. I see students stress out over it all time, and it reminds me of how, I too, stressed out over it when I was applying to college.
How can we help ease the stress??
My attempt to help alleviate the stress was to rename it altogether. Rather than label it a “personal statement,” I labeled it “All About You.” Simple enough, right? But that’s only the first step.
I know social media sites nearly always have an “About Me” section, and students don’t seem to have trouble filling THAT in. I think it’s important to constantly remind students that all the personal statement requires is for them to evaluate themselves, their experiences and their dreams (keep in mind this is geared towards UC applications here in California). It’s “all about them.” I think that they often underestimate themselves and thus find it really difficult to write positive evaluations of themselves.
One complaint I often hear is that “there isn’t anything special enough about me.” Students seem to think that they have to come from an extremely poor/difficult background and have had to face unusual circumstances or have a ridiculous amount of volunteer/community experience in order to write a good personal statement. I like to remind them that just the fact that they are an individual human being already makes them unique. We all SEE and INTERPRET the world differently; colleges want to know how you see and interpret your world and how that world view affects, and will continue to affect, the structuring, shaping, and implementation of your dreams and aspirations.
I think that what students need the most help with is learning how to evaluate themselves, their goals, and their lives. This, of course, doesn’t have to be done through writing. There are other ways of doing this (i.e. “getting to know me” activities, share-around-circles, creative art assignments, etc.) that can eventually lead to the writing process. Once we can help students do this then I think having them write personal statements will be a lot easier. Yes, we will still have to help a lot with grammar, structure, etc. but the most difficult part, content writing, should run a little more smoothly and appear less daunting to students.
What else can we do to continue to help them through this process?
I'm a first year advisor at Lincoln High School in San Jose. I, like my most of my students, was born and raised in San Jose. After attending De Anza community college for 3 years, I transferred to and graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in English. Community College broadened my mind, helped me see how many opportunities I had/have, and really made me fall in love with learning. This is the reason why I like working for and supporting education. I feel that our current K-12 educational system doesn't allow for enough creativity and a REAL love and appreciation for learning. I hope to help students re-evaluate what it means to learn and be educated, and in turn encourage higher education.
When I have free time I enjoy writing, doing anything "artsy", listening to music, trying new foods, exploring new places, and running. I enjoy watching people express themselves in creative ways.
Best wishes and good luck at your sites!
Helping students with their application essays has been one of the most enjoyable, albeit challenging, jobs I have taken on so far as a College Adviser. The essay component of the application is, for many students, the most intimidating aspect of the process. In part, this fear seems to be grounded in several common misconceptions about this task that I have noticed in my work with students. I have had a lot of success in getting students to articulate these preconceived ideas, and then countering them. By responding directly to their concerns, I have found that students’ discomfort with application essays dissolves, and writing these essays becomes a much more accessible undertaking.
Ultimately, it seems like there are four main misunderstandings about writing college application essays that I am sure each of you have encountered in your schools as well. These follow, as do my usual responses to each.
1. I need to write this essay at “college level”, and I need to use a college-level vocabulary.
In my experience, students seem to view this essay as their first college assignment, and are thus discouraged about their ability to do it correctly. Similarly, I also see students trying to perform beyond their skill level, and using unnecessarily flowery language just for the sake of trying to impress the admissions officers. I remind students struggling with either or both of these issues that this is their essay, and it needs to be written in their authentic voice. Admissions officers can easily spot students who are trying to overreach, and are more interested in seeing students’ true writing styles, as this provides a window into the student’s mind. Finally, I remind students that the admissions officers know that they are reading the work of high school students, and do not expect anything other than that. This final point seems to remove a lot of the burden for students.
2. This is a formal essay.
For the most part, high school students are used to writing formal five-paragraph essays, and over the course of high school seem to develop an aversion to writing anything other than that. I remember being terrified of using first-person voice as a high school senior because my English teachers had taught me that first-person voice should be avoided at all costs! Getting students to move out of their writing comfort zone can be challenging. I try to get the students to reimagine the assignment, and encourage them to think about writing a narrative or a story rather than an essay. By getting them to think about the assignment differently, and using new language to talk about it, they tend to have a better understanding of what is being asked of them.
3. Colleges want to hear that I am a “hard worker” (and other clichés).
Arguably the biggest challenge of this assignment for students is simply the charge of writing about themselves, and doing so in an effective way. Because students are, for the most part, so uncomfortable with the idea of writing about themselves, they tend to fall into cliché. Further, many students seem to think that colleges want to hear certain things, particularly that they are a “hard worker.” Here, I try to remind students that while, yes, colleges do want their applicants to be hard workers and yes, most of the students I work with are very hard workers, this is a phrase that most admissions officers are tired of hearing. Instead, I tell students, try to show that you are a hard worker. I encourage them to tell a story of a specific time where they demonstrated hard work, or an experience that showed them what hard work really means to them. This can be applied to nearly every other cliché often used by students within this assignment.
4. Prompts that ask about the “diversity” I would bring to campus are only interested in my race or ethnic background.
This is a big one at my school, as the overwhelming majority of my students are white. When they see the word “diversity”, they tend to get discouraged, and tell me that they have nothing to contribute when it comes to diversity. I respond by pointing out that when colleges ask about the diversity a student would bring to a college campus, they are really curious about that student’s unique perspective on the world, and what helped shape that perspective. This tends to be a huge “lightbulb” moment for the students I work with.
These vague, ubiquitous essay prompts provided by colleges and universities seem to be designed to intimidate and stir up confusion in high school seniors. By breaking down this confusion, speaking directly to students’ fears, and getting them to think differently about application essays, we can better help them tackle this important assignment.
P.S. My Local College Access Network (LCAN) organized a county-wide Essay Writing workshop for area seniors earlier this fall, and brought in a woman named Debbie Merion to run it. She runs a company called “Essay Coaching” and offers tons of great resources and advice. If any of you are interested in checking her out, you can visit her website at http://www.essaycoaching.com/.
I am a first-year adviser serving at Yale and Capac High Schools, two small, rural schools located in the “thumb” of Michigan. In May 2012, I graduated from the James Madison College School of Public Affairs at Michigan State University with a BA in Comparative Cultures and Politics. I am passionate about college access, community service, and improving the quality of life in the state of Michigan. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, listening to NPR, making soup, discovering new music, and the occasional social gathering. I was born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, and I think the Mitten State is the greatest place in America!
As you may very well know, a huge part of an Adviser's job is to encourage students to go to college. Forget all the issues that come after (such as SAT Prep, FAFSA completion, college searches, career planning, etc), if you can't get the student excited about going to college, everything else is irrelevant. Because of this, I have made it a priority to build a college-bound culture within my school. One of the ways to build a college-bound culture is to speak to students individually. However, once you get them into your office, what do you say? Well, to be honest, there are a lot of different approaches that you can take to convince the student. One of the preferred approaches I use is the Financial Approach.
I've personally heard this statistic a hundred times: "According to US Census Bureau Data, the average college graduate from a 4-year degree program earns almost $1,000,000 more over a lifetime than a high school graduate." I know many students have heard the same mantra. While this is a powerful statistic, I've found that it doesn't really help much. Why? Well, 17 and 18 year old students have a hard time wrapping their heads around time and value. Sure a million bucks sounds like a lot, but a lifetime is a long time. Is a million more dollars over a lifetime even a lot of money? Is it worth the stress of going to college for four years and getting into years of debt afterwards? We know that it is worth it, but how do you tell the student that?
While I still use the million-dollar statistic, I follow it up with information to which students can relate. I often use visuals to help the students understand. One of the best visuals out there is the "Education Pays" graph that is updated yearly by the US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics (and which can be found here: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm). The graph is a great way to show the students that the higher their degree, the less likely they are to be unemployed and the more likely they are to get a better wage. The difference between the million-dollar statistic and this graph is that students can understand a weekly salary. Many currently have a job, so if you tell them "You make XX a week now and with a Bachelor's degree, you would be earning $1,053 on average," they are much more receptive.
After the visuals, I confront the financial horror stories. According to a report from the Institute for College Access & Success' Project on Student Debt, two-thirds of the class of 2011 held student loans upon graduation and the average borrower owed $26,600. That's up 5% from 2010 and is the highest level of debt in the seven years the report has been published. Those statistics have raised many a student eyebrow in concern. However, just like the million-dollar statistic, the students need something that they can relate to. I break it down for them into monthly installments. On average, a college graduate pays $313 a month towards their loans for the next 10 years. While that may seem like a lot, the average college graduate earns an additional $2,100 a month for the next 40 years. That is an investment that I would make any day!
Lastly, I talk to the student about the power of the purchase. I tell the student that an education is one of the few "purchases" in life that will actually increase in value rather than decrease. Again, using a point of reference with which the student can relate is important – in this case, I use cars. According to Edmunds.com, a new car will, on average, lose 11% of its value the second you drive it off the lot. During the first five years, that car will depreciate by 15% - 25% of its value every year. After five years, your shiny new car will have dropped in value by about 37%. The opposite, I tell them, is true for their education – The more you learn, the more you earn and the more you earn, the more that degree is worth!
It is helpful to remember that students are bombarded by scary realities every day. The media is quick to paint a tragic picture about the cost of higher education and the students might know of people who are unemployed due to the economy. The case for paying many thousands of dollars for an education is increasingly difficult to make, but we must try to put it into perspective. It is our job to help both students and families understand what they are getting into and what their education is actually worth!
I grew up in a very low-income neighborhood in the Bronx, NY. The thought of going off to earn a degree at a post-secondary institution hardly crossed my mind. I didn't think I could handle the academic rigors of college. Luckily, I had several people who believed in me, who saw in me something that I didn't even know existed. It is because of their push that I received the Posse Scholarship, a full tuition scholarship, for Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. Dickinson is a private, liberal arts institution that shaped me into the person that I am today. It freed me of my preconceptions and unlocked my intellectual and academic growth, a growth that will now never cease.
That is why I am an adviser with NCAC. There are thousands of students out there that simply need someone to believe in them and give them a helping hand. I will never forget the smiling student that comes into my office to tell me that they have just been accepted into the college of their dreams. That kind of joy just can't be found anywhere else.
When I tell people that I am a college adviser, I often am asked, “So… you’re a Guidance Counselor?” but aside from confused looks and questions, it more or less goes without saying that I encourage my students to value post-secondary education. 80% of jobs in our workforce require at least some level of education or training after earning a high school diploma, so when my words aren’t convincing enough, I will play the numbers game mercilessly (let me just add that Jonah Hill in Moneyball doesn’t have anything on Career Cruising stats and figures). One of my favorite activities is to walk a student through making a budget. The end result is usually somewhere along the lines of: “So, you can’t own your own home, have a new car, and go on vacation while living off of minimum wage?” And voila, we’re looking at colleges. However, I’ve come to realize that one of the most important aspects of our jobs isn’t to squeeze every student the 4-year college mold. Instead, we must recognize their strengths and weaknesses, interests and passions, likes and dislikes, and discover a “best fit” degree program.
But therein lies the dilemma: what happens when this isn’t a degree program at all?
In the past, whenever a student expressed their interest in joining the military, I instantly felt uneasy. I attended several training sessions focused solely on educational benefits offered by the military, but I cannot honestly tell my students I understand what it means to put your own safety at risk in order to serve our country. Guiding military-bound students is stressful because I don’t want to push them in any one direction; the only thing I see fitting to do is ask them a series of questions, Socratic style, to better understand their decision making process. That’s why when the option of attending Marine Corps Educator Week came up, I instantly jumped at the chance. What better way to learn about this branch of the military than going through the experience first-hand?
The chance to visit Parris Island and immerse myself in a completely different culture surmounted to be an experience I won’t easily forget. Not only did I learn how to shoot an M-16, but I also gained a newfound appreciation and respect for those who serve our country. More importantly, I was able to confront my preconceptions about the kinds of students who are military ready. Within the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force, and National Guard, there are many paths for students to take: ROTC scholarships, military academies, utilizing the GI Bill, Officer Candidate School, distance learning while overseas, and reserves options are available (to name a few). Enlisting without attending an officer-training program does not necessarily mean a student will be pigeonholed into infantry services; instead, there are career advancement opportunities in many different trades and fields, from law enforcement to communications to healthcare to technical trades. For students who thrive in a disciplined environment, are physically apt, focused, passionate about serving our country, and excited to travel, the military might be the best fit for them. As advisers, we must treat this decision as if they are deciding on a college, and provide them with all of their options.
One of the commanding officers at Parris Island addressed our group of counselors and said that there are two questions we should always ask our students who want to join a branch of the military:
- Do your parents know about this decision?
- Have you explored all of your options?
In addition to posing these two questions, I also like to address the intention behind joining the military. If their answer is: “I don’t have any other way to pay for school”, I immediately throw a flag down on the play. There are other ways to afford college and I’m certain that dedicating 6+ years to your life for a cause you do not feel strongly about is not the way to go. After discussing the origins of this decision, find out if they’ve spoken to a recruiter yet. If not, make it very clear that they need to first speak with their parents about the decision and take someone along with them (Mom or Dad) when meeting with the recruiter. It is also a good idea to generate a list of questions to ask the recruiter upon your first meeting. This is an exercise I like to do with students. Not only does this help them start thinking about what exactly their goals are for becoming a member of the armed services, but it also opens up the discussion of where they’d like to go in their future and with their career.
I always try and emphasize to students the importance of taking ownership over their education. Make plans that fit your lifestyle, interests, and passions: don’t worry about anyone else’s. Perhaps a student might consider the military after earning an associate’s degree at a community college and trying their hand in the workforce. Or, if you have a high achieving student with stellar grades and athletic ability, a military academy may be a better fit for them instead of simply enlisting at the age of eighteen. In the end, it all comes down to recognizing your student’s strengths and providing them with as much information and options as possible: this is the only way to truly find what is a “best fit”.
I grew up in Allentown, PA, which serves as the namesake of Billy Joel's chart topping hit AND is also home of Yocco's Hot Dogs. The college application process was very foreign to me in my senior year as both of my parents entered the workforce after their high school graduations. After much debate, I left home to attend Millersville University and majored in English Education. I loved being in the classroom with students every day, but my experience working for the Pre Scholar's Institute (a college access program) served as inspiration to become involved in higher education. Outside of work, I enjoy practicing my culinary arts skills, doing pilates, and cheering on the Philadelphia Flyers. I also identify myself as a reality tv enthusiast... please don't judge me.
It has always been amazing to me the magic that is created when motivated people congregate. So, with 335 college advisers in one room, you can imagine the magic that started flying. From October 1st through 3rd, our corps traveled to Washington, DC for the National College Advising Corps’ Innovation Summit. After three days packed with speakers, sharing best practices, and visiting state representatives at the US Capital, I was reminded why I have the best job in the world.
Prior to this national training, I was a little discouraged, and was quickly reaching my burnt-out point. However, being surrounded by people passionate about social justice at the Innovation Summit re-lit that fire in me: the passion that every single student in my school deserves a chance at post-secondary education. This was reinforced by our fearless leader, Dr. Nicole Hurd who is always there to remind us the difference we are making in our schools, and how we carry our jobs with grace and humility in the forefront of our actions.
Throughout our speaker sessions I kept stopping myself to reflect: These people are really here to talk to us?! Just to name drop a few presenters, we heard from Ms. Zakiya Smith, White House Senior Adviser for Education, Mr. Peter Grauer, Bloomberg LP and Chair, Mr. Bill Basl, the Director of AmeriCorps, and Mr. Rob Wellington from Zinch.com; all reminding us what important work we do. I believe the corps-wide favorite was hearing from John Wood, founder of the nonprofit Room to Read; a groundbreaking program that shares our values of education. Mr. Wood had an incredible ability to motivate us for this work of public service. He reminded us that although some days are seemingly impossible, we should always be bold and stay focused; our country’s future depends on it.
The bond we have as a Carolina Corps is pretty incredible. The connection we formed with the National Corps was just as strong. What I carry with me most from this Innovation Summit is the encouragement that we as a National Corps are changing the face of post-secondary education in America. Through sharing (read: stealing) best practices, making friends across state borders, and listening to success stories, I am reminded that magic is being surrounded by my 334 colleagues. That with an incredible team behind us, we will stop at nothing to get our students into college. After all, we do have the best job in the world.
Hello! My name is Molly Norwood and I am serving my second year at J.M. Morehead High School in Rockingham County. I am from southern Alamance County and graduated from UNC with degrees in Psychology and Religious Studies.
I am thrilled to return to Morehead to continue growing relationships with the community around me, with my school faculty, and with my students. Educating these young people about post-secondary education is so fulfilling when they realize the potential they hold. This position is helping make higher education a priority in our rural communities. I am so fortunate to have an opportunity to advise what is best for each student, but to also learn from them!
Quote: The most fulfilling part of being an adviser has been working with the individual needs of a student in order to find the best match and fit in a college. These students are so bright and willing to learn when given the attention and resources they deserve.
Seeking bloggers for the 2012-2013 school year. All that's required is to write 1-2 posts per month. Email Mia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to year from you!
Decision Day is one of the most rewarding days of the school year. It is the opportunity for seniors to celebrate their futures while reflecting on their hard work, determination, and perseverance. It can also be a great way to get juniors, sophomores, and freshmen to think about their own futures. However, planning for Decision Day can be quite stressful since we want to make this event special for our students. How do we do that? Here are a few ideas and suggestions.
Consider your students. What do they enjoy doing the most? Are they outgoing, energetic? Are they more laid back and reserved? Answering these questions will help you decide what activities to have at your Decision Day event. Some advisers have held ice cream socials, barbeques, and formal luncheons at their schools. Others have hired DJs, had mini-carnivals, and brought in marching bands. Whatever works for your kids, do it!
Involve the entire school. Past advisers have held door decorating contests for the underclassmen; some have had teachers wear college t-shirts on the day of the event. Allowing your school to take ownership of the event will only help to create a college-going culture.
Ask for donations. Many businesses and community organizations will be willing to donate items for this cause. Try writing a formal donation letter to send to area businesses that already support your school. Additionally, ask the staff, faculty, and parent groups at your school for donations. Some may be willing to donate prize giveaways; others might donate time, food, and other forms of support. Anything helps!
Be organized. Decision Day is much easier for you and everyone around you when things are under control.
Think it through. Make sure that you are considering all necessary items and procedures. You may not remember everything, and that’s okay! (I forgot to buy forks for the cake that I purchased, but my seniors made the best of it by having a cake eating contest.) However, once I started planning the details of my Decision Day event, I realized that there was a lot more going into it than I had originally thought would. Because this will impact your time and budget, make sure you think through the logistics as thoroughly as possible.
Be cognizant of the fact that school budgets are being cut. While most staff and faculty will be supportive of this event, many schools cannot afford to do what you might be able to do for your seniors. You’ll certainly want D Day to be a fun and memorable day for your seniors, but it also shouldn’t be too flashy or over-the-top.
Lastly, and most importantly, have fun! As I said before, planning Decision Day can be stressful. Because we want this event to be enjoyable for seniors, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the things that don’t go as planned. However, know that your seniors truly appreciate what you have done for them and will have fun at your Decision Day no matter what.
Have you held your Decision Days yet? What kinds of activities would you suggest? What resources have you found to be helpful? Share your ideas!
I am a second-year college adviser with the Missouri College Advising Corps, serving in a first-year partner school. I graduated with honors from the University of Missouri in December 2009, obtaining degrees in Business Administration and International Studies. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, baking, spending time with family and friends, and dancing like a fool in my living room. This photo was taken in Durnstein, Austria. I was in Austria for a mission trip over the summer, but we took one afternoon to visit Durnstein and play around a little bit. (And eat lots of high fat ice cream - amazing!) The water behind me is the Danube River. I took my shoes off and hopped in at the shoreline, just to be able to say that I stood in it. It was cold! :-)