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When we talk about preparing students for college, many teachers and administrators think of course rigor and academic credits. Yes, students do need to graduate from schools that engage them in challenging academic courses and prepare them for the rigors of their college coursework. However, there are other aspects of preparing students for college besides preparing them academically.
Schools that have had success with helping students transition to college have implemented programs that help students to plan for and prepare for college by guiding them through all aspects of the transition. The Neighborhood Academy in Pittsburg serves a low-income area in Pittsburg, but 100% of the seniors over 10 years have been accepted to a college or university, which school officials say is the result of a strong advisory program that addresses the challenges that these students will face as they transition to college. High schools that have advisory programs, or programs that connect students to a trusted adult who can help them navigate social-emotional aspects of school and focus on individual goals and aspirations as well as academic aspects, can help students to be better prepared for the transition to college. Lessons and activities that address planning for college can take place in an advisory setting or as part of an academic class. Yet, the research is clear. High schools that attend to all aspects of the transition to college, not just the academic preparation, are graduating students who are better prepared to face the challenges of postsecondary work.
If we know from the research that this type of planning for the transition to college and to the workforce benefits students, why don’t more schools build this type of lesson into their curriculum? Unfortunately, the answer may be that those responsible for helping students transition well to college are struggling to handle a heavy workload. High school guidance counselors have a plethora of duties, of which helping students get into college is only a small part. Research actually cites the need for counselors to have a caseload of approximately 250 students, or for schools to hire “college coaches” to help students with the transition to postsecondary study. Does your district have the financial resources to make either of those things happen? If you are like most districts, the answer is no. Instead, you need a solution that will allow guidance counselors to guide students in the completion of a personalized plan for college transition, but that is not time-consuming or burdensome for them.
So, in sum, to transition successfully to college and then from college to the workforce, your students need a life plan, but your guidance counselors are already stretched too thin to provide this type of personalized support. That’s why you need LifePlan Laboratories. Our team has designed a complete curriculum to help students build a life plan for high school, college, and the transition to the workforce. The curriculum is augmented with online resources including blog posts that encourage students reflect on topics from the curriculum. The lessons in the curriculum were designed to address issues that all students face as they plan for and transition to college, including topics related to selecting a major and school, topics related to financial aid for college, and topics related to how to interact with professors and not let social activities derail the plan.
The beauty of the LifePlan curriculum is that the hard work of designing engaging lessons related to college transition has already been done for you. All lessons were written by a veteran educator, and they incorporate connections to the Common Core State Standards for literacy, or your state’s accepted set of educational standards. Further, the curriculum is designed to be flexible so that you can customize the implementation based on your needs. If you have an established advisory program, lessons can be implemented as part of your advisory program for 9th to 12th grades. You can also incorporate the lessons into an existing academic course, such as a senior English/Language Arts course, or even create a separate elective for students to take if you choose. Finally, the curriculum is meant to guide the students to college, and then LifePlan Laboratories stays with your students. They can continue to access our online site to explore topics that are relevant to college life and to the workforce. The hybrid nature of the resources—lesson plans for implementation in high school, as well as online resources—allows for your students to continue to benefit from the curriculum as they take steps toward fulfilling their life plans.
Many high school administrators and guidance counselors have spent countless hours researching and developing the types of lesson plans that are available at your fingertips in the LifePlan curriculum. We have spent our time doing that work for you so that you can spend your time working directly with the students as they access the lessons, reflect on the topics, and develop their individual life plans. Now you can get more return on your time investment because you will have more time to work face-to-face with students as you implement lessons that are already designed with you and your students in mind. Your students need a life plan, and to help them develop the best plans for their lives, you need LifePlan Laboratories.
Johnson, T.E. (December 2010). Advising as teaching: A high school advisory program as the vehicle for student success. Academic Advising Today, 33:4. Available from: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advising-as-Teaching-A-High-School-Advisory-Program-as-the-Vehicle-for-Student-Success.aspx
Rowe, C. (Jan. 2015). Want more kids in college? Check school counselor caseloads. Education Lab Blog. The Seattle Times. Available from: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/educationlab/2015/01/13/college-counselor-caseloads/
Schanfield, M. (2010). Practical approaches to advising: High school programs create support systems for students transitioning from high school to college. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: