Are your students college and career ready? Parents can help in the process with students as young as elementary age
Ensuring that our students are well prepared for life after high school is a collaborative effort that involves dedicated students, school and District staff, and parents. Each of us plays an important role in helping students achieve their post-secondary goals and aspirations. Fort Bend ISD’s Counseling and Post-Secondary Readiness team – which includes high school College and Career Readiness (CCR) Advisors and AVID Program teachers – is here to help lead the charge in equipping, inspiring and preparing our students for futures beyond what they can imagine.
As early as elementary school, students can begin preparing for their futures. Parents can begin conversations with students regarding their own education, careers and jobs. They can also encourage students to take part in campus activities, such as Elementary Career Day events and College Days where students and staff wear their favorite college t-shirts to school.
At the middle school level, all students have the opportunity to explore their career interests through Naviance (a comprehensive college and career readiness solution that empowers students and families to connect learning and life, and provides schools and districts with the information they need to help students prepare for life after high school). Middle school students can also apply for the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Program for support with their academic performance and college readiness. Middle school students also attend annual Career Day events that welcome professionals from all walks of life and occupations to speak to students about their education and career experiences.
Through the District’s high school College and Career Resource Centers, students have access to a wealth of information to help prepare them for college and their future careers. Students can visit the centers, which are open during school hours, to access college application and scholarship information, research post-secondary institutions and District and community activities to ensure they are ready for post-high school careers.
“Our CCR Centers provide students with all the information they need to apply for college and scholarships, seek financial aid, obtain Dual Credit, access ACT/SAT exam information, draft resumes, you name it. We’re a one-stop-shop for college information,” said Laura Jeffery, CCR Advisor at Austin High School.
Dulles High School senior, Taylor Pickney, admits that she felt college wasn’t an option for her until she met with her CCR Advisor, Veronica Avila. “Visiting our school’s College Center has been a priceless experience for me as a financially-burdened student,” said Pickney. “Before I walked into the center, I questioned whether or not college was even an option for me. With the help of Miss Avila and her willingness to work with me and encourage me, I have come to the realization that college is indeed an option.”
FBISD’s CCR Advisors also provide numerous opportunities for high school students to meet face-to-face with college and military representatives through campus, District and community events. FBISD hosts annual events – including College Application Boot Camps, College Nights, a Military Academy Information Night and an Educational Enrichment Expo and HBCU Expo in partnership colleges, military groups and service organizations – that welcome students and their parents. The CCR Advisors communicate the various events via social media, email and through Naviance
By accessing Naviance, students can create a plan for their future, discover their individual strengths and learning styles and explore career options based on their results, utilize tools to search for college programs based on their interests, and determine which courses they need to take to reach their goals and identify areas for improvement.
“All of our counselors and CCR advisors at the secondary grade levels use Naviance as the main source of all things college and career-related,” said Dr. Terry Sheneman, CCR Coordinator. “The program also allows parents to be involved by allowing them to track students’ progress and communicate their needs and concerns with our CCR advisors and counselors.”
It’s important that parents encourage and support students along their college and career paths. Following are steps that students can take, in grades 8-12, to get a jumpstart on their futures:
8th Grade – Take the PSAT 8/9 exam, access Naviance to determine career interest and create four-year high school plan, begin drafting resumes and attend campus Career Day events.
9th and 10th Grade – Continue working on resumes, consider joining campus clubs and organizations, use Kahn Academy to personalize a study plan for the PSAT/NMSQT.
11th Grade – Take the PSAT/NMSQT, research and plan college visits, make sure immunizations are current, sign up for SAT/ACT exams, begin college application essays and start applying to colleges/universities/military institutions.
12th Grade – Apply for college, scholarships and financial aid, and request letters of recommendation.
“One of the best things parents can do is encourage their students to get the work done, but avoid doing the work for them,” added Dr. Sheneman. “Students have to take ownership of their futures and be willing to do what’s necessary to achieve their postsecondary goals.”
To celebrate students’ academic success and post-secondary commitments, FBISD hosts a District-wide Decision Day event for graduating seniors. The event features guest speakers, a roll call of colleges/universities, scholarship presentations and lots of give-a-ways to help prepare students for life beyond high school. Last year, of the 5,547 seniors who graduated from FBISD, the vast majority actually enrolled in postsecondary education or enlisted in the military.
This year’s Decision Day event will be held May 26 at the Smart Financial Center. FBISD is currently seeking event sponsors. For more information about Decision Day and to learn about sponsorship opportunities, contact CCR Advisor Laura Jeffery at firstname.lastname@example.org.