At YES Prep, College Counseling is about much more than college applications. We believe that college readiness is a developmental process that requires attention not only to academic readiness, but also mastery of the non-cognitive and life skills required to persist through and graduate from college. In order to achieve true college readiness, our students participate in a college counseling program all four years of high school, taught as a class by our College Counselors, through a curriculum designed around five pillars*:
Aspiration –This pillar is centered around developing a college-going identity. Students need to be able to envision themselves as a college graduate, believe they can do it, aim to do it by setting realistic goals throughout school, and then organize themselves in such a way as to make it happen. We realized early on that it’s not enough for teachers and parents to want their students to go to college and for kids to say they want to go – for many students who are first-generation college bound, it is a long process of consistent effort and small victories that over time cement into a vision of college success.
Preparation – Non-cognitive skills** are the focus of this pillar; the ‘outside-of-the-classroom’ variables that can often make or break a students’ college experience. All ‘8 Skills for College Success’ are focused on every year in every college counseling class. They are:
- Self-Concept – possessing confidence, strong ‘self’ feeling, strength of character, determination, and independence
- Realistic Self-Appraisal – ability to assess one’s strengths and weaknesses to allow for self-development
- Understands How to Handle Racism; Navigate the System – ability to deal with policies, procedures and barriers, intentional or not, that interfere with the development of people
- Long-Range Goals – developing long-range goals and understanding the relationship between efforts and ultimate practice of their professions
- Strong Support Person – utilizing a person of strong influence who provides advice, particularly in times of crisis
- Leadership – ability to organize and influence others
- Community – involvement in a community, often based on race and/or gender, from which support is received
- Nontraditional Knowledge Acquired – ability to learn outside of school
Application – This strand focuses on college eligibility, including a plan for co-curricular and community service experiences, the creation of a resume, preparing for the SAT, and the college application process. Across four years, the emphasis is on living and reflecting on their resume, not simply writing it down.
Transition – Based in financial literacy and study skills, this pillar spans from high school through to college graduation and guides the support our alumni team gives students throughout their college experience. As we graduate more and more students each year, we are putting a tremendous amount of effort into developing the communication and implementation of this strand in order to better support our students towards college graduation.
Graduation – College graduation is the goal!
This year we’re excited to launch the College Assessment Portfolio Project (CAPP). All of our high school students will complete this project each year to measure and document their progress towards college readiness. Our campuses are integrating and implementing the project in different ways and our team of college counselors will have a chance early next semester to analyze the first round of projects. We’re anxious to share how things are going in the next post!
*Adapted from Ready, Willing, and Able: A Developmental Approach to College Access and Success by Mandy Savitz-Romer and Suzanne Bouffard.
**Based in the work of William Sadlecek, Using noncognitive variables in assessing readiness for higher education.