How can one counselor get her students excited about college when a mere six percent of the town's residents earn a B.A? And nearly 14 percent live below the poverty line? High School counselor Doris Graves has created a culture of college readiness at Channelview High School.
Like most counselors, Graves is dedicated to helping her students achieve their full potential - including earning a college degree. Yet with more than 350 students in her charge, her time is limited. Although Texas was the first state to adopt college readiness standards, each counselor must figure out on their own how to implement this.
Approximately 25 local colleges visit Channelview each year, but the experience can be a little overwhelming for students, who may not feel they have enough time to make an informed choice.
Graves took a multi-faceted approach to promoting post-secondary education. First, she found some fun ways to instill pride in her students who enrolled in college. She gave out lollypops leading up to CollegeWeekLive's big fall open house where students evaluate schools online. All across school, students were eating pops that read "I am no sucker. I logged into CollegeWeekLive."
To pique students' interest in various college environments, she designated a team of respected students, teachers, and counselors to be college trailblazers. They wore college t-shirts and encouraged their students to write about their college exploration experiences. They reached out to parents of students in those classes to enlist them in supporting the college-readiness goals.
Knowing that many parents were concerned about the realities of paying for college, she encouraged them to attend live video presentations at CollegeWeekLive to learn about financial aid options.
To augment in-person visits from colleges, Graves invites students to participate in CollegeWeekLive online events. They can visit the computer lab to chat with college reps, evaluate schools, navigate the admissions process, and hear about other students' experiences. To promote the events, she posts CollegeWeekLive flyers at local teen hangouts around town, and gets key students to spread the word across the student body. She has also created a reward system of prizes and recognition for participating students. In addition, Graves is inviting students to participate in CollegeWeekLive's free Test Prep Day to prepare for the SATs and ACTs.
Graves' creative approach is paying off. More and more students and parents are inquiring about college opportunities. "CollegeWeekLive presentations are very thorough and are a fantastic resource for parents and students," said Graves. "I can't say enough about what you do to support our college-readiness goals."
"CollegeWeekLive has an amazing user interface; it was incredibly easy to navigate between different colleges and I was glad that it included all of my top choices. Once I had finished asking some of the admissions counselors all of my questions, I started asking the students what their days looked like and what kind of entertainment and dining options there were near the schools, how they traveled around the area, and how safe the cities were after dark. Thanks to the admissions counselors I was able to fast track my applications and thanks to the students I had a good idea what life would be like at different schools, without having to travel there. The experience was marvelous and I'd highly recommend it to all my friends gearing up to apply to different schools", A. Ramos, a Channelview High School Student, told us.
Graves invited high school graduates to return to school to speak about their freshman year at college. This way her students will see firsthand that a college education is attainable, and hear from their peers about what college life is really like.