Guest blog post on developing a college/career advising program, by Jason Chew, principal of North Putnam High School and Lauren Alspaugh, Director of School Counseling.
North Putnam High School has developed robust programming at every grade level to support our mission and to help prepare students for the demands of life after high school. Some of our programs are funded by outside partners; while others have been developed overtime building on relationships that have been fostered within our community. We hope the lessons we have learned over the past ten years can help you shape the best program for your school.
Jason Chew has been an administrator at North Putnam High School for the past 12 years, and has been serving as the principal for the past 6 school years. Mrs. Alspaugh has been the Director of School Counseling for the past 10 years. Mrs. Alspaugh was recognized as the 2019 Indiana School Counselor of the Year, and Indiana’s 2020 nominee for the National School Counselor of the Year award.
Developing a College/Career Advising Program
All schools are searching for the best way to help their students learn about and pursue positive post secondary outcomes. Historically this was a high school concern; however, with the passing of graduation pathways, we all now share the burden of preparing students to make decisions earlier in their journey through K-12 education. When developing college/career advising lessons or courses we encourage you to think about the following:
Focus on potential outcomes:
Rather than ask students where they want to go, or what college they want to enroll, we encourage students to focus on the outcome of their decision. What do they want to do with their future? We focus on not only college, but also apprenticeships, military, trade school, etc. All of our students utilize Indiana Career Explorer which houses four year plans, career interest assessments, job outlook information, and more. This free tool is extremely valuable in helping students learn about and explore different career interests.
Utilize Community Resources:
Our small community has a plethora of resources available to help students with their postsecondary plans. We invite community members into our school to speak to students at all grade levels about financial planning, resume building, career interests/personality assessments, scholarships, interviewing, and more. Building a bridge between our school and the community is a win-win; the community feels more a part of our school and our students benefit from the expertise of others. Most importantly, students learn that the community cares about them and their plan for life outside of high school.
Utilize a teacher-advisor period:
At North Putnam we have a 25 minute class period in which counselors and teachers present lessons about college, career, and social emotional learning. Students not only learn valuable information, but they are also building relationships with their peers and with an adult in the building. We pair students with a teacher starting their freshman year and continue that pair throughout high school. We all know how crucial relationships are to student success so we have made that a priority in our building.
Three years ago, our school counseling department became extremely intentional about the work of preparing our students. We embarked in the “Redesigning School Counseling” (RSC) process. Through this process our department determined student needs, set goals, and created an advisory council, all to create a data-driven comprehensive school counseling program. This process was extremely beneficial for our school and our counseling approach. To learn more about this program, we encourage you to visit: http://www.indianaschoolcounselor.org/goldstar