10 Ideas for Reimagining the College Counseling Office

Blended Learning
Leadership
Student Experience

By: Michael Nachbar

At GOA, we talk a lot about technology-enhanced learning, where educators leverage technology to rethink what the modern classroom looks like. We ask, how can we rethink time and place while staying connected to each other? AND, when every aspect of our lives is affected by the technology we use on a daily basis, why only innovate the classroom?

I had the chance to talk to Lakeside School’s team of college counselors who, as part of their annual retreat, were challenging themselves to imagine big and bold ideas for next-gen college counseling. They were asking what might they envision if time and space weren’t factors to how they connect with students and their families in the college application process.

Knowing what they know about how to implement online spaces to connect with students and faculty, I asked the GOA team to participate in a similar brainstorm in preparation for my conversation with the Lakeside team.

 

Here are 10 ideas for reimagining the college counseling office.

10 Ideas to Reimagine the College Counseling Office

  1. Use digital portfolios. Use online portfolios so counselors can see student work leading up to the application process as a way to see a student’s growth over their time in high school. Students and teachers could curate these materials to paint the clearest picture of who that student is. There are a few apps that make putting together portfolios easy.
  2. Leverage online spaces. Leverage online meeting spaces to give working parents access to college guidance. No matter how many different time slots are offered, some parents and guardians won’t be able to attend. Using a tool like Zoom, counselors could offer more flexible slots and better accessibility.  A recording of the meeting could be made available to be watched later. Questions could be submitted in advance.
  3. Involve families. Create an online parent community moderated by a college counselor to field questions throughout the year. This could be used on dedicated channels such as Slack or private Facebook groups.
  4. Eliminate emails. Use an online scheduling program such as youcanbook.me for students to book meetings with their counselor, which would limit the number of back and forth emails, which in turn would save time.
  5. Collaborate on platforms. Use a platform such as Slack for counselors’ cohorts to chat with each other or to share information among the counseling team.
  6. Host video chats. Host online video chats using Google Hangout, Skype, or Zoom to meet with students and their parents/guardians. GOA faculty tell us all the time that they know and feel connected to their students despite being in different parts of the world. Online video can foster powerful connections.
  7. Practice interviews. For student to practice interviewing and to get feedback, use a tool like Flipgrid, which encourages concision and allows for counselors or even peers to offer video feedback, giving everyone more practice with public speaking.
  8. Involve alumni. Have alumni in college host (a)synchronous Q & A  sessions about “life after high school“ to share their experiences and offer advice to students at different stages of the application and matriculation process.
  9. Capture reflections. Harvest video comments and reflections from teachers and peers about students for whom they have to write a cover letter.
  10. Text reminders. Schedule and send text reminders to students about important dates and deadlines. Consider using a tool like ohdontforget.com.

Central to each of these ideas is thinking about how to create opportunities for human connection. While some are tools that can save time and create efficiencies, the majority are about enhancing the relationship-based work we value most in schools.

 

We want to hear from you. How do you leverage technology to rethink how you connect with students, parents and guardians, and colleagues? Follow us on Twitter and share @GOALearning.

Global Online Academy (GOA) partners with schools and organizations to deliver high quality online, blended, and in person professional learning experiences. These experiences foster innovative projects and ideas that impact the school and the student learning experience. Professional learning opportunities are open to any educator. To sign up or to learn more, see our Professional Learning Opportunities for Educators offerings or email hello@GlobalOnlineAcademy.org with the subject title “Professional Learning”. To stay up to date on GOA opportunities, sign up for our newsletter here.

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Michael Nachbar
Michael Nachbar is the Executive Director of GOA. Clear in vision and generous of spirit, Michael’s approach to GOA starts with fostering strong, personal relationships between GOA students and their teachers. Michael exhibits a keen understanding of all aspects of school administration, along with a great deal of flexibility and ingenuity as he leads a consortium of diverse schools, each with its own culture and mission. Prior to GOA, Michael was middle school assistant director at Lakeside School in Seattle. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.