For the past couple weeks, counselors have been meeting with juniors to talk about where they are in the college process. School counselors are a major help when figuring out how and where to apply and it’s in the best interest of every Allderdice student to take advantage of their support and resources in every way possible. The counseling office does a lot: setting up college visits, teaching students how to use college search sites, and meeting one on one with students. However, there’s sometimes a disconnect between what’s offered and what students know exists. “What you guys have now is huge; it’s just about taking advantage of what there is,” said school counselor Ms. Hecht.
One resource that some students are unaware of is college tours with the school. Although the spring college trip is widely known, juniors that were asked didn’t know the school does single college fall tours. The tours are a great way to explore colleges near Allderdice and are often last minute opportunities. The best way for students to find out about them is to listen closely to morning announcements and to follow the Allderdice Student Services Facebook page.
“We recognize that getting the information out there can be a challenge and we never want a student to feel like they didn’t know about something or didn’t have a chance,” said school counselor Ms. Van Luik. She recommends following their Facebook page, a great place for students to find all announcements regarding the college search process and scholarship opportunities. “Any scholarship that comes to this office, we put directly on Naviance and we also put it directly on Facebook,” said Ms. Hecht. The school has a lot of support for finding scholarships, online, and in person on their annual Scholarship night. This year the event will be held February 27th at 5:30 in the cafeteria. “It’s usually about local scholarships, there’s also some universities from around the area that will come and talk to students about scholarships,” said Ms. Hecht. Students can receive applications and information that night, and then apply later on their own time.
Regarding finding the right schools to apply to, Allderdice has around eighty admissions officers that visit the school every fall to talk to students about their respective colleges. The representatives each give a single time slot spiel about their college and answer any questions students have. Students can request a full list of the visits from their counselors and obtain passes to excuse them from class and learn about the schools they’re interested in. “Some students really take advantage of it and some students do not,” said Ms. Hecht, “We offer it, it’s just who’s going to take advantage of it.” And just like college tours, all the in-school visits are posted on the Allderdice Student Services Facebook page.
As mentioned earlier, the counseling office does a three day trip every spring to ten colleges for forty interested juniors. Many of the tours are led by former Allderdice students and the trip gives juniors a good look at various types of schools. “It’s a lot of exposure: informal, formal, admission tours,” said Ms. Hecht. The trip is great for juniors that aren’t sure what type of school they’re interested in and want to explore different options.
Within the walls of the counseling suite is where the most resources can be found. The first and most obvious one is your counselor. “Your counselors are the biggest resource for college planning,” said Ms. Van Luik. “We do individual student planning meetings with juniors, and counselors are available for students if they want to make an appointment at any time.” She also added, “The more counselors that know your face and know what you want to do in the future, and what your thinking about, the more that when these opportunities come through, your counselor might think about you for a specific event.” This is especially helpful for times like when Allderdice goes to the PPS scholars fair at Greenway. This is an instant decision event with around twenty schools giving on the spot acceptance. “We targeted kids that we knew were applying there,” said Ms. Hecht. The same goes for if any schools come to Dice to give instant decisions. If counselors know you’re thinking about a school, they can contact you about signing up. “[The students] came down, they had time slots and they got an instant decision on that day.” Your counselors want you to succeed in whatever your college plans are, and if you build a relationship and they get to know you, it’s easier for them to help you. Don’t be a stranger, ask questions, and advocate for yourself.
Another great new resource that the counseling office has is the college and career readiness library. “There’s resources about the college search process, there’s resources about SAT and ACT prep, there is information about specific types of schools like liberal arts programs, HBCUs, there’s information on financial aid, there’s books on essay writing and books on trade programs, and all different types of post secondary plans,” said Ms. Van Luik. Students can check out books for two weeks and eventually the books will be stored in a trophy case near the counseling suite to make them super accessible. For now just ask your counselor to check one out. “[It’s] a really wonderful resource that I hope students take advantage of,” said Ms. Van Luik.
In addition to books about SAT and ACT prep, the counseling team also sets up in-school SAT prep classes with Goldstein Test Prep. The classes are held during junior and senior lunches and although they’re over for this year, the agency also holds free Saturday practice tests throughout the year. And the classes will be back again next year. They’re an annual occurrence and a great way to prepare for the test. The school also offers a free real SAT test for all juniors in March every year.
Lastly, a great resource that most students do know about but don’t take full advantage of, is Naviance. “No, I don’t use Naviance. I probably should, I have the packet in my english binder but I have yet to look at it,” said one Dice junior, Gwen Conner. Another junior, Danielle Sene, hadn’t even considered it. “No, I don’t use Naviance.” Even some seniors, completely though the college application process, never explored Naviance on their own. “I used [Naviance] for all the required things. Not for researching colleges or touring campuses,” said one who prefers to remain anonymous.
So how can students use naviance to its fullest potential? Look out for an article all about Naviance in the next edition of The Foreword.