How to Give Better Advice to High School Students about College and Careers

Teacher helping 3 high school students with project Feature Image

The innovation economy job market is changing fast. New jobs are being created, old jobs are being augmented by smart technology, and jobs based on repetitive rule application are going away. Faster and cheaper alternatives to traditional higher education are gaining market share. A few high schools are propelling graduates into lucrative technical careers.

With more career pathways and more learning options, guidance is more important than ever. Young people that have access to informed guidance and an opportunity to test out a variety of career pathways through work-based learning have a big leg up. In fact, the guidance gap may be more important to success in life than the achievement gap.

An advisory system that monitors social and academic development and provides career and college awareness should be the spine of any high school design. This distributed counseling model ensures that every young person feels known, respected, supported, and informed.

There is a market gap for products that support advisory. Incumbent products have limited functionality and dated user experience. They don’t include progress monitoring, portfolio, capabilities and curriculum support for career-ready skill development.

To and Through Advising Challenge

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation took on the challenge of improving postsecondary advising with the goal of improving advice for students at all achievement levels. They are specifically targeting students who face historical and structural inequities, including African-American, Latino, and students from low-income families.

After an RFP in May, the foundation reviewed 156 applicants and recently awarded grants to a cohort of 20 grantees that serve a diverse group of 252,618 high school students (70% receive free/reduced lunch, 36% are Latino, 30% are white, and 28% are African-American) in 247 high schools, across 14 different states.

Each grantee was awarded $75,000 for the 2018-19 school year and receive access to a yearlong community of practice, led by the National College Access Network (NCAN).

The goal of the new program is to boost college completion. Grantees will report postsecondary completion. Coaches and NCAN staff will help grantees develop plans for implementation in the 2019-20 academic year.

KIPP will share its college match framework, postsecondary advising practices, and tools as part of a year-long learning collaborative with four school system partners (New York City, Miami-Dade, Newark, and Aspire Public Schools). The work kicked off in July with a College Counseling Institute, bringing together counselors, school leaders, and district officials to learn from one another.

Four of the Gates’ Network for School Improvement (NSI) grantees will focus on college access and/or postsecondary advising. For example, Achieve Atlanta, will be working in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools to implement advising around college match.

Grantees will advise students to apply to and enroll at institutions that support student success. They will guide students to navigate financial aid and affordability issues and make sure they show up for college (avoiding summer melt).

A “to and through” approach to advising requires a deep understanding of students’ identity, motivations, and mindsets, emphasizes personal relationships and family engagement, and focuses on three critical decision points which directly impact students’ chances of obtaining a credential or degree:

  1. Advising students to apply to and enroll at institutions that support student success
  2. Supporting students to successfully navigate financial aid and affordability issues
  3. Avoiding summer melt

Grantees include urban and rural school districts and support organizations.

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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