School's Out for the Summer!!!

I realize that those of you with kiddos are probably gearing up for back to school, or have perhaps started already. And that is super fantastic for you and the kids! Structure! Brain workouts! Hours not spent entertaining bored children! I’ve loved seeing pics of my nieces and nephews and other loved littles as they head back to school this week.

However, as of yesterday morning I am officially out of school. I took a grad-level class this summer as a sort-of professional development project for my job. I work in higher education in my state and my job entails training high school counselors how to help their students be more prepared for college, including applications, FAFSA completion/financial aid, and the transition from high school grad to college freshman. The class I took focused on all those things and is geared for grad students in their final year of a Master’s degree in high school counseling.

You guys, I totally aced it. Like, a “98% A!” aced it. This is not to say that I didn’t learn anything, but the most valuable pieces for me were not the instructions and readings on methods, strategies, and programs to help students become college ready. My office literally wrote the curriculum for those sections and I live and breathe it every day at work. The most valuable part of this course was the discussion boards where I could interact with counselors and learn more about what they do outside of college advising. Did you know that helping students understand the college application/enrollment and financial aid processes are not actually part of a counselor’s job description but rather fall into “other duties as assigned” ?! No WONDER my high school counselor was not at all helpful as I tried to navigate that process as a 17-year old kid! More and more counselors are wanting to take on those kinds of responsibilities and work with students and families to facilitate a smoother transition into college…but dang, I was shocked that it is not required or even recommended and, until 2 years ago (at least in my state), there was zero training for counselors and counselors-to-be on how to figure out how to create a successful “college going culture” within their school. Zero.

I won’t get into all the details about college going rates for my state (fair, but not great), or college graduation rates (we have the highest drop-out rate for women IN THE COUNTRY!), or FAFSA completion rates (we have the lowest completion rate in the country–that’s the bad side of that scale), and all the other data pieces that land on my desk. But I do want to say that the program I run–focusing on helping students figure out the “getting to college” process–is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever been part of, I love going to work, I love the work I do, and I am learning to better understand the roadblocks I come across along the way (see above paragraph about counselor training).

You guys, at age 32 I feel like I am in my dream job. Sure, I’d love eleventy-jillion more dollars in my bank account, but I LOVE what I do and am immensely satisfied with my work-self. Which means it’s time to seriously consider a Master’s degree…. gulp!

Harriet sig