Becoming a college adviser can be a little scary at times, even with the full support from our fellow colleagues and supervisors. It may feel a bit lonely when we’re placed at a school to work with students and families in a city we may not know. But new experiences open up room for new opportunities, and I’d say it is definitely worth it. As I reach the end of my two year service term as a college adviser at McDowell High School, I look back and appreciate the growth in knowledge, experience and relationships. My favorite part about this job, aside from providing my students with equitable access to a post-secondary education, has to be the people I work with. The relationships I’ve built in this position are ones I’ll cherish forever. In honor of National School Counseling Week, I would like to thank my counselors for always being available to help with anything I may need, not only being there for me professionally but also personally.
Engaging with staff is an important process of settling into the new community, but most importantly, partnering with your counselors and student services staff is the most crucial part in understanding the school’s environment, its goals, its flaws and how it functions. As college advisers, we work very closely with counselors and student services professionals, so here are some tips on how we can maximize the effectiveness of this partnership.
When collaborating with counselors, it is crucial to have a system in place where communication is consistent across the board. We all hold similar but different roles, so communicating what we are working on helps us work smarter and not harder. The system that has worked for me has been Google Spreadsheets, in which I have the senior roster with different columns that helps inform our work. For example, easy access to student demographics (GPA and test scores) helps us save time when working with students. Information on student progress (FAFSA and RDS completion) keeps us updated on current completions and helps us target students who need to complete applications. Finally, information on student’s future plans helps us prepare for student meetings and allows us to not ask and repeat the same thing over and over to the same students.
Wise Ideas VS Innovative Ideas
When creating new initiatives for goals or events, it is important you run these ideas by your counselors. They know the school and community culture and know how things work, so getting a second opinion will decrease errors and allow for new initiatives to fit well in the environment. Running ideas by them also opens up room for their suggestions, as they can let you know what has worked at the school and what hasn’t, while also providing their own ideas based on their knowledge. This collaboration allows for wise ideas and new fresh ideas to combine into new initiatives that foster the traditional way of doing things while also making changes that line up with the young generation’s way of doing things.
Taking Off Their Plates
I believe that the best strategy when partnering with counselors and supporting staff is providing your skills and knowledge to help take some responsibilities off their plates. Participating parties with similar roles often cross responsibilities, so in order to make sure you don’t step on any toes, ask your counselors what you can do to help their load. This is beneficial because whatever you take off their plate will more than likely relate to our responsibilities in this role, meaning KPI increases.
In conclusion, the most effective way to partner with your counselors is through communication.
Photo: Adviser Rosa Gonzalez with McDowell High School Student Services Staff
By Rosa Gonzalez, McDowell High School Adviser