College Counseling Outreach Handbook

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1 College Counseling Outreach Handbook Improving college access and success for first-generation and historically underserved students through collaboration and partnership 1 2 THE COLLEGE SEARCH AND APPLICATION PROCESS 3 NAVIGATING THE MAZE AND MAXIMIZING OPPORTUNITIES PROMOTING COLLEGE AWARENESS AND MOTIVATION 4 5 ENCOURAGING COLLEGE ACCESS AND RETENTION EXPOSURE TO THE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE

2 Participants, Thank you for participating in Center for Student Opportunity s Counseling Outreach initiative. By leveraging the support of a national network of counselors like you, we aim to enhance college guidance and preparation services reaching first-generation and otherwise underserved college-bound students. Your individual expertise and commitment are crucial to this effort. Central to the Counseling Outreach initiative is the hope that you will help make students fully aware of the college opportunities open to them. Over all else, college success is predicated on finding the right fit. CSO is firmly against underselling any student in the college search, so we ask counselors to engage in an active dialogue with each student to jointly determine the best opportunities for the student. If possible, don t let students dreams of college be compromised by financial considerations, geographical barriers, or other obstacles. In this respect, it is important that the promotion of a college-bound culture be built around optimism and opportunity. Of particular interest to CSO is encouraging qualified first-generation and underserved students to look beyond community college or the local state university system in their college search. While such institutions play a valuable role and for many are the best college fit, CSO sees great intrinsic value in the college experience at four-year, residential institutions. Financial aid and scholarship opportunities do exist to make such a college experience an affordable reality. Additionally, four-year, residential colleges typically offer close-knit campus communities, personalized educations, and comprehensive support networks to encourage student success and foster personal growth, independence, and responsibility. Each Counseling Outreach partnership is unique, so please take adequate time to discuss with your partner school or organization the particular needs and interests of the students with whom you will be working. Tailor your program accordingly. Naturally, CSO expects that you will draw on your substantial insight, experience, and expertise in counseling students. Provided in this Handbook are materials that may be helpful in whole or in part. The Handbook offers worksheets, activities, and other resources dealing with: 1) Elementary/Middle School Students: Promoting college awareness and motivation 2) High School Students: The college search and application process 3) Financial Aid: Navigating the maze and maximizing opportunities 4) Parent/Family Involvement: Encouraging college access and retention 5) College Success and Retention: Exposure to the college experience We also encourage counselors to use CSO's online clearinghouse of college programs and admissions information, CSO College Center (http://www.csocollegecenter.org ), as a tool. Please see the information sheet on pg to learn more. Thank you again for choosing to volunteer your time with the Center for Student Opportunity and welcome to the CSO family. Please contact us with any questions that you may have. Sincerely, Matt Rubinoff Executive Director Leon Dawson Program Coordinator 2

3 SECTIONS Elementary/Middle School Students: Promoting college awareness and motivation 2 High School Students: The college search and application process Financial Aid: Navigating the maze and maximizing opportunities 4 Parent/Family Involvement: Encouraging college access and retention 5 College Success and Retention: Exposure to the college experience 3

4 1Elementary and Middle School Students Promoting College Awareness and Motivation 4

5 1 ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS Promoting College Awareness and Motivation Contents Introduction for Counselors Introduction to College Target Grade Level: 3-6 Instructions for Proctor: Allow ample time for students to answer questions in writing. Convene in small groups (3-4 students) or as a whole to share answers. For younger students, the proctor should read each question aloud before having the students answer. College Viewbooks Target Grade Level: 3-5 and 6-8 Instructions for Proctor: Proctors will need to bring in a number of college viewbooks for this activity. Break students into small groups. Provide each group a college viewbook, explaining what a viewbook is to the students. Have each group complete the following worksheet. FAQ: Paying for College Target Grade Level: 6-8 This document is intended as an introduction for middle school students to the financial aspects of college. Examples of Jobs in Which a College Education May Be Recommended or Required Target Grade Level: 3-8 This chart is intended to place college education within the context of students career aspirations. Instructions for Proctor: Share this sheet with students and encourage questions. If a student has a career aspiration not noted on the sheet, encourage them to ask you for the answer. To Do List Target Grade Level: 8 This list details steps to be taken during the eighth grade toward planning for college. High School Course Planner Target Grade Level: 8 This worksheet is intended to assist eighth graders plan a college preparatory course schedule heading into high school. Recommended High School Courses for College-Bound Students Target Grade Level: 8-9 This chart details a college preparatory course schedule for high school. 5

6 Introduction The years from ten through fourteen are a crucial turning point in life's trajectory Adolescence, in fact, is the last phase of life in which society has reasonably ready access to virtually the entire population, so the potential for constructive influence is great. Great Transitions: Preparing Adolescents for a New Century, The Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, 1996 Counseling Outreach partnerships aim to help young people examine the world of college choices that await them. Working with elementary and middles school-age students is an opportunity to help raise postsecondary expectations among first-generation and underserved student populations while their outlook is bright and choices for the future are wide open. CSO believes that instilling a college-bound culture must begin by raising college awareness and motivation among students in their early years of schooling. A focus at the elementary and middle school level on motivating students to want to go to college and stressing the importance of college sets students on the right path. By the time students enter high school, they should be asking not "Should I go to College?," but "Where should I go to college?," "How can I find the necessary financial aid?," and "What makes a good college essay?" This should be the aim and intent of counseling partnerships with students of this age group. It is estimated that 90% of all new jobs created today require post-secondary education. More and more jobs depend on the ability to think critically and write clearly, analyze and compute. Through early preparation, counselors can help students begin to think about their unique talents/abilities and plot a course of study for high school that will allow them to hone these talents in college. You can help students be ready for education beyond high school by: setting high expectations and high standards for all students; encouraging all students to work hard and get the best grades they can; helping students find people to support positive goals; encouraging students to take college track courses, like algebra and geometry, to keep education options open; familiarizing students with the college experience, what college means, and why college is so important helping students learn that financial aid is available to make their ultimate college dreams an affordable reality 6

7 Introduction to College: Grades 3-6 Answer each of these questions in a few words. Talk about your answers as a group after. These are your own thoughts. There are no right or wrong answers. 1. What do you think of when you hear the word college? 2. Who do you know who goes to or has been to college? Where? 3. What do you think that college is for? Why do students continue on to college after high school? 4. What jobs do you think require a college education? 5. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you think that you would have to study in college in order be able to do that job? 6. What colleges do you know about? How do you know about these colleges? Where have you heard them? 7. What other things do you think that you can do in college besides study and take classes? 8. Why do you want to go to college? Adapted from Cabral, Joshua. Addressing the Needs of First-Generation, College-Bound Students: A Comprehensive 5th-12th Grade Approach. South Boston Harbor Academy Charter School

8 College Viewbooks: Grades 3-5 Look at the viewbooks with the other students in your group and find the following information about the college. You will present this college as a group to the rest of the class when you are done. 1. What is the name of the college? 2. Where is this college? 3. What does the campus look like? 4. What do you see students doing in the pictures? 5. What sports or other activities are pictured? 6. Find three other pieces of information about the college that you learned from looking at the viewbook. Adapted from Cabral, Joshua. Addressing the Needs of First-Generation, College-Bound Students: A Comprehensive 5th-12th Grade Approach. South Boston Harbor Academy Charter School

9 College Viewbooks: Grades 6-8 Look at the viewbooks with the other students in your group and find the following information about the college. You will present this college as a group to the rest of the class when you are done. 1. What is the name of the college? 2. Where is this college? 3. What does the campus look like? 4. How many students attend this college? Is it public or private? Co-ed, all-women, or all-men? 5. How many majors are offered? List the most popular majors if that information is provided. If not, list some of the majors. 6. List some of the sports, clubs or extracurricular activities offered. 7. Find three other pieces of information about the college that you learned form looking at the viewbook. Adapted from Cabral, Joshua. Addressing the Needs of First-Generation, College-Bound Students: A Comprehensive 5th-12th Grade Approach. South Boston Harbor Academy Charter School

10 FAQ: Paying for College How can I afford to go to college? There is money, called financial aid, to help you pay for college. Financial aid can come from different places: the Federal Government, the State where you live, colleges, educational associations, and banks. Your chances of getting financial aid are as good as anyone else's. All you have to do is plan ahead and apply for it. Can I get financial aid without high grades? Yes, most aid is based on financial need, not grades. You and your family have to show you need help paying for college. I have to pay financial aid back, right? There are three basic types of financial aid: grants, work-study, and loans. Grants are like gifts because you don't have to pay them back. Some grants, called scholarships, are based on grades, athletic skill, and other abilities. Work-study is a part-time job, usually on campus, that helps you earn money to pay for your college expenses. Loans must be paid back after you leave college. Most students get a "package" mixing all three types of financial aid. What if I want to go to an expensive college? Financial aid can help you afford even the most expensive college. That's because aid is based on the difference between what a college costs and what the federal or college formula used to determine aid says a family can pay. So, you could be eligible for more aid at an expensive college, while the amount of money you pay should stay the same. Who provides financial aid and where do I apply? You apply for grants from the Federal Government, the State where you live, and the college you are going to attend. Apply for work-study from the college you are going to attend. You may also consider applying for loans from banks and educational organizations. Is it smarter to go to a less expensive school? Not always. Expensive colleges often have more financial aid to help families bridge the gap between the costs and what families can afford to pay. So, try to match your interests with the programs the college offers -- then see if it is affordable. How do most families pay for college? More than half the students attending college get some financial aid. Most families pay for college with savings, current income, and loans. continued... 10

11 FAQ: Paying for College (continued) My family doesn't have "extra" money to help me go to college. What should I do? You're not alone -- many students put themselves through college. The earlier you start saving money for college, the more likely you'll be to actually go to college. Sometimes students get enough financial aid to pay their tuition but can't afford to buy books and supplies. That's when a savings account comes in handy. Start now by putting a little money away each week. The truth is every dollar really counts. When should I apply for financial aid? You apply for financial aid during your senior year in high school. However, you should not wait until your junior or senior year to learn the process or what specific college application deadlines are. I don't want to go to college. I want to go to a trade school. Can I get financial aid to help me pay for it? Yes. You can get financial aid to pay for many trade and technical schools. Check with your school counselor or directly with the school or program that interests you. But do consider the benefits of a four-year college experience. Four-year colleges are a time to grow academically and personally, while discovering a newfound independence and responsibility. Do all colleges provide financial aid? Most do. You should check with each college you are interested in to see what help is available. However, if you are eligible for financial aid from the Federal Government, your State, or other scholarships you might receive, you can use this money at most colleges and trade schools. How much does it cost to go to college or trade school? The costs of college varies widely, and don t be fooled by sticker price. Sticker price is the amount colleges publish that it cost to attend. Such costs range from as little as a few thousand dollars to as much as $40,000 per year. But it is rarely the case that a student is required to pay the full sticker price, as discounts are offered through financial aid and scholarships. My parent doesn't know much about going to college since she didn't go. Who should I talk to? Begin by talking to your school counselor, your teachers, people in your church and community, or kids from the local high school who may have gone to college. They are in the best position to give you advice and help you plan for college. SOURCE: Think College Early: Questions and Answers from the College Board, U.S. Department of Education, 11

12 Examples of Jobs in Which a College Education May Be Recommended or Required Two-Year College (Associate's Degree) Administrative Assistant Automotive Mechanic Cardiovascular Technician Commercial Artist Computer Technician Dental Hygienist Drafter Engineering Technician Funeral Director Graphic Designer Heating, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration Technician Hotel or Restaurant Manager Medical Laboratory Technician Medical Record Technician Insurance Agent Registered Nurse Surgical Technologist Surveyor Visual Artist Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Four-Year College (Bachelor's Degree) Accountant Computer Systems Analyst Dietitian Editor Engineer FBI Agent Investment Banker Journalist Medical Illustrator Pharmacist Public Relations Specialist Recreational Therapist Research Assistant Social Worker Teacher Writer More Than Four Years of College (Various Graduate Degrees Required) Architect Biologist Chiropractor Dentist Diplomat Doctor Economist Geologist Lawyer Librarian Management Consultant Paleontologist Priest Psychologist Public Policy Analyst Rabbi Scientist Sociologist University Professor Veterinarian Zoologist SOURCE: Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov. 12

13 To Do List: Grade 8 Talk to your guidance counselor (or teachers, if you don't have access to a guidance counselor) about the following: Going to a four-year college or university Courses to start taking in grade 9 The importance colleges and universities place on grades, and what year in school grades will start to be considered in the admissions process College preparatory classes you should be taking in high school (grades 9 through 12) Academic enrichment programs (including summer and weekend programs) available through your school or local colleges If you have an opportunity to choose among high schools or among different programs within one high school, investigate the options and determine which ones will help you further your academic and career interests and open doors to many future options. Start saving for college with your family, if you haven't already. Investigate different ways to save money - buying a U.S. Savings Bond or opening a savings account in a bank, investing in mutual funds, etc. Find a mentor who will support your positive goals and help you with questions about plans for your future. Remember, you will have more options if you start planning now and keep your grades up. Think about pursuing extracurricular activities (such as sports, performing arts, volunteer work, or other activities that interest you). SOURCE: Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov. 13

14 High School Course Planner This exercise will give you a chance to look ahead and choose future high school courses that will help prepare you for college academics. Be aware that some courses must be taken in sequence. List the current courses or courses you will take this year. Then list courses that you will take during each year of high school. If you are not sure what courses you should take, you should make an appointment your guidance counselor and get some advice. Use the Recommended High School Courses for College-Bound Students worksheet as reference. This Year: Grade Next Year: Grade Fall Semester Spring Semester Fall Semester Spring Semester English Full course title: Mathematics Full course title: History/Social Studies Full course title: Science Full course title: Foreign Language Full course title: Other Full course title: SOURCE: Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://studentaid.ed.gov. 14

15 Recommended Courses for College-Bound Students The courses you take now will determine where you will be accepted to college - not to mention how you ll do once you get there. While requirements vary from school to school, the chart below outlines a typical core college prep course. COURSE YEARS TYPES OF CLASSES ACADEMIC BENEFIT English 4 Composition American Literature English Literature World Literature These courses will help you improve your writing skills, reading comprehension and vocabulary. Mathematics 3-4 Algebra I & II Geometry Trigonometry Precalculus Calculus Mathematics provides a solid foundation for a variety of majors, including engineering and the sciences. Recent studies show that students who take algebra and geometry in high school are much more likely to go on to college. History & Geography 2-3 Geography U.S. History U.S. Government World History World Cultures Civics In these courses, you'll become better informed about the world around you. They also provide excellent preparation for college studies in history and political science. Laboratory Science 2-3 Biology Earth Science Chemistry Physics Laboratory sciences prepare you for careers within the sciences and related fields. In addition, these courses teach you about scientific methodology and train your observation skills. continued... 15

16 Recommended Courses for College-Bound Students (continued) COURSE YEARS TYPES OF CLASSES ACADEMIC BENEFIT Foreign Language 2-3 French German Spanish Latin Russian Japanese Mastering a foreign language gives you access to different cultures - as well as career paths you may not have even considered. Many companies prefer bilingual job candidates. Visual and Performing Arts 1 Art Dance Drama Music The arts expose you to a world of communication and expression. Research has suggested that students who take courses in the arts often excel in school and on standardized tests. Appropriate Electives 1-3 Economics Psychology Statistics Computer Science Communications Electives provide the opportunity to sample a variety of disciplines. They can help you choose your major in college. SOURCE: Kay Peterson, Ph.D., FastWeb, 16

17 2High School Students The College Search and Application Process 17

18 2 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS The College Search and Application Process Contents Introduction for Counselors College Counseling Questionnaire Target Grade Level: 9-10 This questionnaire is intended to identify students academic and extracurricular areas of interest. If one-on-one time is possible, counselor and student should complete this questionnaire together. College Counseling Questionnaire Target Grade Level: This questionnaire is intended to begin to hone in on students academic and college interests in beginning the college search. If one-on-one time is possible, counselors and students should complete this questionnaire together. This is a lengthy questionnaire and can be completed over multiple sessions. Personal College Counseling Questionnaire Target Grade Level: This questionnaire is intended to provide information to help the counselor guide a student s college search and as a self-reflection exercise for student s to draw on as they complete their college applications. If one-on-one time is possible, counselors and students should complete this questionnaire together. Beginning the College Search Target Grade Level: This sheet provides information on getting started with the college search and soliciting information from colleges. CSO College Center Web site Target Grade Level: Center for Student Opportunity provides an online clearinghouse of college programs and admissions information specific to first-generation and underserved students. This sheet details the web initiative and how to use it in finding college opportunities and directly connecting with colleges. continued... 18

19 High School Students Contents (continued) College Profiles Target Grade Level: As students research various colleges and universities, a profile should be completed by the student for each school of interest. The form will provide an inventory for the students search and also allow the student to reflect and jot down feelings about each school he/she researches. Campus Visits Target Grade Level: This document provides pointers as to planning campus visits, the questions to ask, and what to look for. Application Check List Target Grade Level: 12 Students should reference this check list for each school they apply to. Counselors should explain each piece of the check list so the student clearly understands their responsibility. Timeline: Grade Details to-do s for ninth grade from planning a college preparatory course schedule to beginning to think about college. Timeline: Grade Details to-do s for tenth grade from continuing to build extracurricular participation to planning for the PSAT. Timeline: Grade Details to-do s for eleventh grade from remaining academically focused to planning for the SAT or ACT. Timeline: Grade Details to-do s for twelfth grade from finalizing your college search and visiting campuses to completing college applications. 19

20 Introduction The prospect of college is daunting for all students, from the search and application process to four challenging years working towards a degree. But such pressures are only compounded being a first-generation or underserved student. Without adequate guidance from parents who never experienced the process themselves and without the proper support network in school and in the community, the obstacles to college access for firstgeneration and underserved students are imposing. An important part of preparing for college is what the student does during his or her high school summers. Students should participate in activities that will deepen their understanding of academic and professional areas of interest and provide direction as to considering a college and career path. This can include academic enrichment programs or job/internships that build upon students interests and/or course of study. Counselors can assist students in pursuing such opportunities. Make use of the worksheets, checklists and timelines included in this section of the Handbook. Such resources delve into exploring students interests, facilitating the college search, and staying organized through the completion of the college application process. Intervention at the high school level can put students on a successful path to college attainment and graduation. At this stage, a counselor s role may include: helping students choose a college preparatory course schedule in high school and encouraging extracurricular involvement helping students navigate the college search, targeting not just the most affordable options, but the best fit college opportunities assisting in the college application process, including helping students stay organized and developing a strong college essay navigating the maze that is financial aid to ensure every aid opportunity is fully realized. 20

21 College Counseling Questionnaire 1 Student Name: Grade: GPA: In the space below, please respond to the following questions. Your responses are for your personal information and college counseling only. Therefore, please respond openly and honestly. 1. In which academic area (Math, Science, History, English, Spanish, etc.) do you do best? Is this subject the easiest for you? Why do you think you do well in this subject? 2. In which academic area (Math, Science, History, English, Spanish, etc.) do you do the worst? Is this subject the hardest for you? Why do you think you don t do well in this subject? 3. Which academic subject do you enjoy the most? Why do you enjoy it? 4. Which academic subject do you enjoy the least? Why don t you enjoy it? 5. What are your interests outside of school? 6. What s something that you re really good at that no one else knows about? 7. Do you play any sports or are you involved in any clubs or extracurricular activities? Adapted from Cabral, Joshua. Addressing the Needs of First-Generation, College-Bound Students: A Comprehensive 5th-12th Grade Approach. South Boston Harbor Academy Charter School

22 College Counseling Questionnaire 2 Student Name: Grade: GPA: In the space below, please respond to the following questions. Your responses are for your personal information and college counseling only. Therefore, please respond openly and honestly. Location: 1. Do you have a specific location in mind for college (i.e. a specific city, state, or region)? 2. Do you have any requirements in terms of location (i.e. warm/cold climate, near family, near the ski slopes)? 3. How far from/close to home is the ideal college (i.e. minutes away, an hour away, a day s drive, a plane flight)? 4. Do you prefer a city, a suburb, a small town? 5. Do you want your college to be near other colleges (in a college town)? 6. Do your parents have a certain location in mind? 7. Are you willing to consider locations that you have not yet visited or do you prefer a location with which you are comfortable? 22

23 College Counseling Questionnaire (continued) Academic Interests: 1. Do you have a specific career in mind? What college major do you think would best suit this profession? 2. What other academic areas do you hope to pursue in college? 3. What types of sports or other extracurricular activities do you hope to pursue in college? 4. Do you work better when you are challenged by tough classes and motivated classmates or when you are near the top of a less competitive group? 5. How hard do you work in high school? 6. How hard do you expect to work in college? 7. What types of academic programs would you like you ideal college to have (study abroad, internships, co-op, honors, etc.)? 8. Is it important that you attend a well-known college? 23

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