College readiness can be a challenge for struggling students who may be the first in their family to attend college. That's why it's so rewarding to hear about the amazing progress made by high school counselor Jennifer Grubert at Agora Cyber Charter School. Agora is known for helping each student reach their full potential. She is building on this philosophy to create a college-going culture throughout the school.
Grubert loves helping her students build college into their future, however this requires a special approach at Agora. Many students require individualized learning plans to stay on track. In addition, nearly two thirds of students come from low-income households who may not have had experience with college life.
The school's highly transient population, coupled with counselors' large caseloads, makes it difficult to make a personal connection with each student. Grubert often doesn't have an opportunity to meet students until their second or third year of high school. She has to work extra hard to build their trust, and find the right time to explore college options with them. That's where her college preparation experience becomes especially valuable. Over the years, parents and students have come to rely on her to introduce the appropriate resources for the college search process.
Grubert uses live presentations to get students thinking about their college future. The instant gratification of live presentations has been particularly appealing to Agora students. They learn how to find the best school for their needs, and have a chance to ask specific questions to experts in the field. "Live presentations make college more tangible to our students," said Grubert. "It really gets them thinking about the possibilities that are open to them."
To keep students motivated to graduate high school and enroll in college, she shared CollegeWeekLive event updates through the school's monthly newsletter and Twitter and Facebook accounts. She also directs students to a Google doc where they can find useful links and presentation recordings about passing the SATs/ACTs, writing strong admissions essays, exploring financial aid options, and more. This gives them the confidence that they have what it takes to get into - and pay for - college.
Building on their college-readiness culture, the school is planning to incorporate CollegeWeekLive into its career planning course, where teachers will be able to guide students in using the site's online career fairs, presentations, and ASCA lesson plans. Grubert also envisions adding CollegeWeekLive to the toolbar on all school computers. This will provide easier access to college information, and help make parents and students more comfortable with exploring colleges.