Thursday, February 25, 2016

Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern For Others And The Common Good Through College Admissions

Warning: This blog post is doused with personal opinion and should be treated as such!

A recent report published by Harvard Graduate School of Education offers recommendations for improving the college admission process by placing more value on the applicants’ demonstrated “concern for others and the common good.” As a counselor first and a college counselor by profession, I have been increasingly concerned with the level of anxiety, depression and substance abuse displayed in high school students nationwide. Have we created this monster by loading up the shoulders of these young adults with outside pressure to perform? Have we projected our ideas of success and accomplishment irresponsibly upon the lives of these teenagers? Have we saturated their imaginations with our view of the status quo and what they ought to be and do? 

I am afraid that our society has trained our young minds to load up their CVs with clutter in an effort to present themselves perfectly on paper in order to get into the most selective colleges, as prescribed by the U.S. News and World Report. It's almost as if we have turned these amazing young people into chemistry experiments; what would your perfect compound look like? I do believe that the independent, collaborative and innovative way Post Oak holistically educates young adults is idyllic in our world, but why are we the minority? 

I am extremely energized by The Post Oak High School and how we do make an intentional effort to unapologetically educate the whole person in a non-traditional way. Although our students do explore their interests from very early ages at Post Oak, their paths are not without the noise and pressure from the outside world. As I digest the Turning the Tide report, I am encouraged that the pendulum is swinging in a direction that truly focuses on: 1. Promoting more meaningful contributions to others, community service and engagement with the public good. 2. Assessing students’ ethical engagement and contributions to others in ways that reflect varying types of family and community contributions across race, culture and class. 3. Redefining achievement in ways that both level the playing field for economically diverse students and reduce excessive achievement pressure. 

The level of competition and the cut-throat culture that exists today is alarming to me. I am moved by the fact that we are calling out the issues and gaining momentum to act. I am motivated by people like Dr. Robert Sternberg and his efforts to improve standardized testing; the Coalition for Access team, and the FairTest initiative. Times are changing; are we starting a movement

Will you stand with me to help make caring common? *Making Caring Common (MCC), a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, helps educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What is The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success?

The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is a new organization that will launch a new way to apply to 90+colleges for the 2016-2017 Application Cycle. The Coalition represents more than 90 American higher education institutions that share a commitment to providing students with the best possible college experience, beginning with the college application process. Coalition schools offer an affordable education, promising low-cost, in-state tuition for residents of their state (for public schools) or meeting the full, demonstrated need of admitted domestic students (for privates). They also offer proven track records of student success, with graduation rates exceeding 70% at all Coalition schools.

Our nation has been in the midst of an important public policy dialogue about whether college is affordable and whether it has value—can students, especially low- and moderate-income students, be successful and graduate without going deeply into debt? This Coalition helps to answer that question with a resounding YES.

The Coalition was formed with the goal of improving the college application process for all students. To move toward that goal, the Coalition is designing and developing a set of online tools that will guide and support students throughout the process of finding a college home. 

The Coalition is developing new college planning and application tools that will streamline the admissions and financial aid processes and allow students to begin planning for college much earlier in their high school years. The platform tools—which will include the Locker, a collaboration platform, and an application portal—seek to recast the process of applying to college as the culmination of students’ development over the course of their high school careers.

The Locker and Collaboration Platform will be opened to all students in April 2016. We originally planned to release it in January, but agreed to a slightly later launch date to allow for more time to answer questions, engage with counselors and students, and for counselors to be closer to finishing their work with the current senior class.

Monday, February 8, 2016

NACAC College Fair: Houston!

Don't forget to register for the NACAC College Fair, scheduled for February 9th at NRG arena!

  NACAC National College Fair FAQs:

How much does it cost to attend?
FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC, NACAC's National College Fairs allow students to interact with admission representatives from a wide range of postsecondary institutions to discuss course offerings, admission and financial aid requirements, college life in general, and other information pertinent to the college selection process. 

In which grade should students attend a NACAC National College Fair?
We encourage parents and students to investigate the college admission process as early as middle school, however, high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors are our primary audience.
What happens at a National College Fair?
National College Fairs provide exciting opportunities for students and their parents to meet face to face with admission representatives from a variety of colleges and universities. Below are additional components of a National College Fair:

Counseling Center: Guidance counselors are available to answer college admission questions. For example, cross referencing your intended major or interests with the colleges/universities that are  present at the National College Fair.
Resource Center: Services that will help with your transition from high school to college.  

Workshops: Information sessions regarding various topics from financial aid and essay writing to NCAA requirements. Visit your fair city Web page for workshop details.