Thursday, April 6, 2017

BIG or small: College Signing Day is for All


I am so excited to present this topic with two of my colleagues at this year's Illinois School Counselor Association conference in Bloomington, IL.


We decided last year, after each of our events, that sharing the unique ways we each make this event work at our respective schools, would maybe help others gain the confidence to plan and execute their own college signing day.



Our session aims to help attendees:


  • Know & understand the purpose for implementing a College Signing Day program
  • Know how to design and implement an action plan that includes a College Signing Day program which aligns with school and school counseling program goals, despite budget constraints, counseling team size or school size
  • Know how to collaborate with students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders & other stakeholders to promote and encourage student success
  • Know who to connect with to make your College Signing Day event a success
Check out our full presentation here.

Tips from us

  1. Register your event with Reach Higher and Better Make Room
    1. Download the Toolkit and Event Guide to help you plan
  2. Use Canva to make signs https://www.canva.com/
  3. Make different certificates for college and military
  4. Make the event match your school needs and culture. Follow your formula.
  5. Remember your intent. Celebration and valuable data collection!
  6. Data points to track and share:
    1. College Application Completion & Enrollment
    2. Graduation Rate
    3. FAFSA Filing Percentage
    4. School-wide Academic Performance
      1. freshman on track, achievement gap
    5. College Persistence Rate
    6. College Graduation Rate
You can also view my previous posts on this topic:

  1. Recap of the Evidence Based School Counseling Conference
  2. College Signing Day...Take 1

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Flipped Course Registration Intro

Second semester usually brings two things for certain for high school counselors: schedule changes and course registration.

Over the last few years I would dare to say I have found ways, thanks to technology & saavy programming, to make both of these often stressful experiences less stressful.

Let's talk course registration. Usually we have to explain how to register to all of the students when the process begins, which can be very time consuming and difficult to manage with all of the other duties we are responsible for 2nd semester, right?! Well, for the last few years I have been "flipping" the registration info process and let me tell you, the migration to this method has been nothing short of life changing (yes I am passionate about this). :)

Over the years my flips have gotten progressively better in terms of quality, and there's still lots of room for improvement, but last year I identified a few methods that saved me hours this year that I have to share!

First, learn how I do my flips and what tools I use here.

Now for a few tips:

1. Keep the voiceover for most of your slides general so you don't have to redo them all each year. For example, instead of saying, "the due date for your forms is January 13." Just say, "please write the due dates from this slide down so you remember them later."

2. Upload your screencast to YouTube so it's easy to share just the simple how-to with parents and students. They may not need to watch the whole Prezi more than once.

3. Utilize all dissemination means possible. The teachers got the Prezi the day before the students got to view it so they could review it first. I set up the Prezi to be sent to all students and parents 5 minutes before it would be broadcast throughout the school; they got it via email and through our student portal. I also automated our online student registration so it opened on its own at the specified time.

4. Pre-schedule your face to face follow up time with students & publicize it when you release your presentation, this way they will know when they can get answers to their questions.

5. Remember the most important components of this process should be at the core of your work: ISP, ILP's, Appraisal and Advisement. Read more about these components here.

Are you flipping? Share your experiences in the comments!

Want to SEE my flip from this year? Check it out here.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Senior ISP Quick Tips

I'm meeting with all of my seniors for ISP starting on Monday so I thought I'd share a few quick tips.

It may seem a little late to be starting these meetings, but I have found over the years that it's best to meet with them after state articulation and after we've been in school for a few weeks. I've been able to meet with the students in the classroom and address some of the beginning of the year social/emotional concerns--and a few crises. And I literally enrolled two new students last week and changed one senior's schedule. Hopefully by now we're in a good spot to take care of the seniors, right?!

So, now on to the tips...

1. Print off your schedule and highlight the kids that have free/reduced lunch. This will help you remember who needs an application fee waiver and who you can really push to dream big considering the financial supports that have a good chance of receiving.

2. Make enough copies of application fee waivers (with your basic info completed) so all you have to do is write in the students' personal info & you're ready to go.

3. Streamline what you say and how many times you say it by "flipping" the basics. I mean think about it, how many times do you explain how to request a transcript?! Create a video for students and parents to watch prior to the meeting.

4. Create an online SMORE flyer with all of the important details, links and documents you want to share with your students so they always have a one stop shop. Link it to your school webpage, discuss it on your video and share it with your students often.

5. Create a Remind text messaging group for your senior class (and their families) so you can send announcements to them quickly.

6. Keep it quick & informative. These meetings should be 10 minutes tops. The students need to be back in class. Give them what they need to get the ball rolling and put the burden back on them-remember, THEY are going to college, not YOU. If they need further assistance urge them to make a follow up appointment (teach them responsibility). Of course if they don't make that appointment, chase them down and get them back in the office before it's too late. :) 

7. Use Calendly to make it easy for them (and you) to schedule follow up appointments.

Have more tips to share? Please share them with us in the comments.

Previous posts about working with seniors that may interest you:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Freshman-SMART Goals-Data Driven Practices-Oh My


If you follow my blog you know I'm a huge supporter of the growth mindset theory. In previous years I have set SMART goals around fostering a growth mindset and used the Short Grit Scale as my measurement tool.

This year however, I decided to fuse my ideals and practices together as I work with this freshman class. I went to an incredible session at #ASCA16 focused on raising college aspirations and I felt like all of the stars aligned in my world.

This year I will be working on increasing the freshman classes' college going self-efficacy; or their college aspirations, as a class. My SMART goal is to: Increase the college-going self-efficacy of the class of 2020 by 10% by April 30, 2017. To assess this goal I am using the College-Going Self-Efficacy Scale. This tool measures two important factors in terms of college aspirations: Attendance and Persistence.

I administered the "College-Going Self-Efficacy Scale" to each of my freshman last week to get baseline data. In the coming weeks I will provide a number of services for them, for example:

  • minute meetings
  • school counseling core curriculum
  • College Funding Night
  • ISP Sessions (4-year plans)
I will also run at least 2 small groups during RTI time: Organizational Skills Bootcamp and a Test Anxiety Group. I may also bring my Vision Board group back if there is a need.

At the end of this semester I will assess them again. Programming will continue into the second semester and I will assess them a final time in April.

Data from each interval will be shared with my administration as we assess my SMART goal progress.

I also pulled a couple of questions from the tool to analyze individually at each interval:




1. I can make an educational plan that will prepare me for college
2. I can choose the high school classes needed to get into a good college
3. I can go to college after high school
4. I could finish college and receive a college degree
5. I could be smart enough to finish college



I will be looking specifically at each of these questions on a student level as we complete programming and re-administer the assessment. This will not only help me identify growth, but also help me identify students who need more than what I have outlined in my action plan.

When it comes to preparing students for college/career success, it is important to reach the freshman--to help them build a strong foundation.

I'm excited to further review the data gathered with the assessment & looking forward to identifying those who need additional assistance and charting their growth as a class.

If you plan to use this tool as well, I recommend you add a few items to the back of the assessment:

  1. Students Name (a spot for them to write their name)
  2. Do you plan to graduate from high school with your class?
  3. What are your plans for after high school (2 yr/4yr/Military/Workforce/Apprentice Program)
  4. How sure are you about your ability to graduate from college? (same likert scale as front)
  5. Have either of your parents/guardians attended any college at all?
A few data points that should improve I your school as you implement your programming:

-Freshman On Track rate (IL School Report Card)
-Average freshman class gpa

Please share your tips for working with freshman and your assessment tools in the comments below.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Data-Driven Method to Foster a College-Going Identity for Students

I've been (slowly) reading Ready, Willing, and Able: A Developmental Approach to College Access and Success by Mandy Savitz-Romer and Suzanne M. Bouffard and when I came across "college-going identity statuses" I knew I had an incredible, new way to categorize my students so I could streamline and better prioritize my efforts.

According to the text, there are 4 "statuses" that indicate the degree to which a person has explored and committed to a particular element of identity. I believe these statuses are a great way for us to categorize our students at the beginning of the school year, and then set goals to make positive change throughout the school year.

The 4 stages are:

  1. Identity diffused, and not yet resolved whether or not they are college-going
  2. Foreclosured, by “prematurely” deciding college is not for them
  3. Moratorium, “trying on the possibility of going to college”
  4. Identity achieved, having explored the options, talked to peers and others, and on the path to college (p. 70-71).

According to the authors, you want your students to fall into the moratorium status to really take advantage of the programs and services you will provide as their school counselor.

So how can you use this without creating extra work for yourself?

Each fall I meet one-on-one with all of my seniors and juniors. During this meeting they have to complete a one page survey with various questions about their post-secondary plans prior to meeting with me. During our meeting I make additional notes on the paper and as they leave I hand it to my assistant for data entry purposes.

My thought was to add one more data point to the form that I can record (not the student) based on our conversation. Then I can categorize the students and see those that are at the lower end of the college-going identity scale for follow-up first and then move down the line; creating a goal to increase the percentage of those that are in the moratorium status, or even the identity achieved status.

I created a Google Form to illustrate my idea, you can see how easily it creates the data points and spreadsheets for you!



Let me know what you think in the comments below!