Like many high school counselors, Yamila Dielacher is concerned about preparing students early on for college success. She recently found a new way to give students the tools to make informed college choice decisions.
El Camino High School in South San Francisco prides itself on academic achievement. It has twice been recognized as one of the top 100 high schools in the country by Time Magazine. Along with this passion for excellence comes some degree of pressure.
"Students have a lot on their plates trying to complete all the requirements for college," said Career Center Counselor Yamila Dielacher. "They have to complete their college applications and their personal statement, all while challenging themselves in AP classes. Many of them also work late. They tend to miss deadlines for scholarships when they feel overwhelmed. We can't forget that they're still kids."
Counselors and teachers work together to promote early awareness of college requirements among sophomore and junior students. "Preparing students for college success is of personal importance to our counselors and teachers," Dielacher said. "We're always looking for ways to get students excited and motivated to focus on preparing for college."
During college fairs, teachers wear college sweatshirts and leadership students display information about colleges all around campus. Yet the school doesn't have opportunities for that many in-person visits from colleges. "With colleges facing budget cuts, it's impossible for them to visit every high school," said Dielacher. "It can be a challenge recruiting college reps to meet with students."
This year, the school found a new way to engage students early in the college search process. Dielacher used the CollegeWeekLive Advisor Center to arrange an online meeting between her students and college reps at UC San Diego. She invited students to the computer lab to meet online with a college admissions representative and two current students at UC San Diego. "The UC campuses are very popular with our students, so this was a great way to get students excited and motivated to prepare for college."
More than 30 students attended the first-ever online meeting, and asked great questions. "The response was very positive," Dielacher said. "This was a wonderful opportunity, particularly for students who hadn't visited the campus. It was great to be able to interact with the school and get all our students' questions answered. "Live chats with UCSD students and representatives gave our students reassurance about what the campus and the surrounding community has to offer. That was a big topic of conversation."
The school is already planning on its next live chat in the spring, to help prepare juniors as they embark on their 2013-14 school year.