School’s Out for the Summer!!!

I realize that those of you with kiddos are probably gearing up for back to school, or have perhaps started already. And that is super fantastic for you and the kids! Structure! Brain workouts! Hours not spent entertaining bored children! I’ve loved seeing pics of my nieces and nephews and other loved littles as they head back to school this week.

However, as of yesterday morning I am officially out of school. I took a grad-level class this summer as a sort-of professional development project for my job. I work in higher education in my state and my job entails training high school counselors how to help their students be more prepared for college, including applications, FAFSA completion/financial aid, and the transition from high school grad to college freshman. The class I took focused on all those things and is geared for grad students in their final year of a Master’s degree in high school counseling.

You guys, I totally aced it. Like, a “98% A!” aced it. This is not to say that I didn’t learn anything, but the most valuable pieces for me were not the instructions and readings on methods, strategies, and programs to help students become college ready. My office literally wrote the curriculum for those sections and I live and breathe it every day at work. The most valuable part of this course was the discussion boards where I could interact with counselors and learn more about what they do outside of college advising. Did you know that helping students understand the college application/enrollment and financial aid processes are not actually part of a counselor’s job description but rather fall into “other duties as assigned” ?! No WONDER my high school counselor was not at all helpful as I tried to navigate that process as a 17-year old kid! More and more counselors are wanting to take on those kinds of responsibilities and work with students and families to facilitate a smoother transition into college…but dang, I was shocked that it is not required or even recommended and, until 2 years ago (at least in my state), there was zero training for counselors and counselors-to-be on how to figure out how to create a successful “college going culture” within their school. Zero.

I won’t get into all the details about college going rates for my state (fair, but not great), or college graduation rates (we have the highest drop-out rate for women IN THE COUNTRY!), or FAFSA completion rates (we have the lowest completion rate in the country–that’s the bad side of that scale), and all the other data pieces that land on my desk. But I do want to say that the program I run–focusing on helping students figure out the “getting to college” process–is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever been part of, I love going to work, I love the work I do, and I am learning to better understand the roadblocks I come across along the way (see above paragraph about counselor training).

You guys, at age 32 I feel like I am in my dream job. Sure, I’d love eleventy-jillion more dollars in my bank account, but I LOVE what I do and am immensely satisfied with my work-self. Which means it’s time to seriously consider a Master’s degree…. gulp!

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11 thoughts on “School’s Out for the Summer!!!

    1. What do you have a Master’s in? I’m kind of thinking Project Management, the Higher Ed degrees seem….a little too narrow for me.

      On Wed, Aug 19, 2015 at 1:28 PM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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  1. Congrats! Welcome to the graduates club -high five-! Your job is incredibly important- I wish I would have gotten more assistance all those years ago when I was first entering college…I feel like I had to do all of it myself!!!

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    1. Pretty much any adult I talk to about this says the exact same thing (and I also have the same feelings about my inadequate high school counselor). Hopefully we can change the conversation and help students get the help they need!

      xox

      On Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 5:02 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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  2. wow, what you do is AWESOME. I so wish I had someone better trained (or more interested in!!) helping me with that back in the HS days. Thank goodness my parents were so involved, because there is 0% chance I could have navigated that mess of FAFSA paperwork with just the help I got from school.

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    1. Um, yes. I didn’t even know what FAFSA was/that federal money existed to help students pay for college until April or May of my senior year. My English teacher asked me where I was going to go to college and I told her I didn’t know yet because I couldn’t afford it and neither of my parents were willing to help. She sat me down at her computer right then and there and helped me fill out the first part of the FAFSA app. I should track her down and tell her that she is actually the reason I started going to college.

      Yes, doing that, right now.

      xox

      On Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 8:37 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:

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