Expert Advice

How do you help prepare seniors on their path to graduation? Is there something you have picked up from a fellow counselor?

Julie Hartline
2009 Counselor of the Year
Campbell High School in Smyrna, Ga.
It is important to help seniors have a plan for after graduation. Our work starts with students in ninth grade and follows them throughout high school, providing classroom lessons, groups, and individual advisement that help them to become academically successful and to explore future careers. As seniors, they complete a college/career portfolio project which is a collaborative effort between the senior English classes and the school counseling office so that they have taken the steps necessary to move on to post-secondary life. Whether they are going to college, getting a job, or joining the military, the project is tailored to the individual student and his/her plans. I think helping students to have a plan for after high school is key to helping them to graduate. I learned this from a fellow counselor years ago and have seen the difference it makes for our students.

Meri Kock
2011 finalist for Counselor of the Year Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, Tenn.
In addition to helping students see connections between high school and their futures, I am very focused on trying to help students become self-advocates and develop independence. Many times, particularly at the start of the school year, a student and sometimes his/her parents ask me to tell them where to apply to college, how far or close to home the school should be located, what I think is the best major for them to pursue, etc. I cannot make those decisions for someone else, it’s much too personal and much too important for the weight of the decisions to rest on the shoulders of someone who isn’t going to have to live the choices made. Instead I’ll point them to websites, encourage them to visit colleges, talk with admissions counselors, and search their hearts. The decision of where to go and what to study has to come from within, it cannot be imposed from the outside. They need to be able to initiate contact, ask their own questions, and research their own information. I can give them direction where to look, but I cannot make the decision for them.

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