One of the most important decisions senior students have to make is choosing which college or university to go to after high school.
Although some students already have a good idea regarding which school to go to for their higher education, there are still those who need all the help they can get to make the right decision.
And although college counseling typically falls under the purview of school counselors, as a teacher, you can still give undecided students some assistance in evaluating their options.
Aside from taking an active role in your students’ ACT and SAT review and preparation classes, you can help students select the right college or university in the following ways:
Work with each student’s counselor and parents
If a student asks you for advice regarding choosing a tertiary school, and it is clear that he or she has no idea where to start, talk with the guidance counselor and the student’s parents.
Since you already know the student, you may already have some notions regarding colleges or universities that seem promising. However, you still need to work with the counselor to check if the student will like and be a good fit for these schools.
You will also need to get some feedback from the student’s parents as they have to be involved in the student’s decision.
If possible, schedule a conference with the student, parents and counselor. Let everyone say their piece. You have to particularly encourage your student to speak up honestly since he or she will be the one going to college.
Hopefully, at the end of the discussion, your student will find the enlightenment he or she needs to choose the best college or university to go to.
Avoid comparing students
If a student asks you for advice regarding his or her acceptance or rejection from
a particular college or university, the last thing you should do is compare him or her to other students.
Each student is unique and has different interests and passions. Comparing them to their classmates will add more stress to the already nerve-racking process they are undergoing in choosing the right school for them.
In this instance, you have to be an active listener. Listen carefully to what the student has to say and offer advice that addresses his or her particular concerns.
Analyze data with student counselors
Although numbers are not the sole indicators of a student’s inclination and future success in college, they still play an important role.
If you want your students to love furthering their studies and to thrive in college, work with the counselor to collect, analyze, and report key data points that will affect a student’s ability to gain access to higher education.
Together, teachers and counselors should review past results from college admissions tests. Through item analysis, teachers and counselors can identify areas in which students struggled on specific aspects of the standardized tests.
To ensure the current students get the scores they need to enter the college or university they are interested in, teachers should find and introduce new topics into the curriculum to close learning gaps.
Another way educators and counselors can use data to help students choose the best college is by examining data on graduates of local schools, including which colleges and universities accepted students with various qualifications. You can then establish a profile of a typical successful applicant for each college which students can consider in their decision-making.
Help students research and evaluate academic opportunities
Most students will have already read up on the various academic offerings of the colleges and universities they are interested in. But, most of the time, information overload can cause some high school seniors to get even more confused regarding their final decision.
You can help students research and assess the different academic opportunities at their shortlisted tertiary schools. Go over the following together:
- Courses offered by each school
- Offered major and minor subjects
- Undergraduate research opportunities
- Study-abroad programs
- Policy regarding changing majors
By spending some time going through all of these with your student, you can help him or her make a more informed choice.
Assist with creating and distributing handouts or publications
Students also rely on flyers, brochures, posters, and other types of paper and digital advertisement to get information about different colleges and universities, the courses and benefits they offer.
If you’re good with graphic design or have someone on-hand to help with it, come up with interesting handouts that offer general information and advice regarding college and course selection.
Keep in mind that teenagers are glued to social media so take advantage of this. Post soft copies or images of these handouts on different social media sites using your and the school’s account so that students can see them.
With these additional sources of information accessible in various forms and channels, you can help students narrow down their options.
Take a more proactive role in college awareness programs
To help students be more interested and even excited about going to college, brainstorm with the counselors, administrators, and other teachers to come up with attention-grabbing college awareness programs.
Aside from holding college fairs in the school grounds or gyms, other activities worth conducting are:
- Inviting representatives from different higher education institutions to give presentations.
- Field trips or visits to local or regional college fairs.
- Teacher-chaperoned visits to nearby college and university campuses.
- Inviting influencers and guest speakers to provide presentations on topics such as writing an amazing college essay, financial aids, or completing the Common Application form online.
- Having recent alumni over to speak to students about their college experiences. This will help students visualize their future experience after high school.
In addition to planning these programs, be proactive during the actual activities.
Assist in any way you can. Pay particular attention to students who are still unsure about their decision regarding their college choice. Encourage them to ask questions during the talk or to personally confer with the speaker after the presentation.
Encourage students to also think about their future after college
Lastly, you can help students choose the most suitable college by instilling in them the importance of visualizing their future success in their college choice.
Students have to know that their college or university will play an important role in helping them reach their career goals. The one they ultimately select should be able to support their plans.
You can assist students with doing this by helping them research job placement rates of different tertiary schools. Internship opportunities are also crucial and, as such, make sure the school they choose offers these.
As a teacher, it is natural that you would want all your students to find a school that will meet their needs and pose the best possible chances for them to succeed.
By following the tips above and working closely with the parents, your fellow teachers, school counselors and administrators, you will set the stage for your students’ success in college and in their future careers.
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.