Friday, September 23, 2016

Columbus NACAC Day 2!

Today started bright and early with my first in-person meeting of the Coalition Counselor Committee. I shouldn't really call it a meeting, since it was more of a breakfast meet and greet, but it was the start of my day all the same. It was nice to finally put a face to the names on the emails that have come through my inbox during the past year. If nothing else, there certainly seemed to be less anxious buzz about the Coalition compared to last year. At ElRo, I've encouraged only students applying to the University of Florida to use the app this go around, but time will tell how the platform performs during this its first cycle.

My first session of the morning was the overview of Naviance. While they spent a little too much time talking about Naviance for elementary school (yes, that is apparently a thing), it was exciting to get a sneak peek at what is in store for the site. There look to be some pretty overdue cosmetic changes, along with other nice improvements like embedding net price estimates based on income band and letting students know about college open houses and local fairs. They are also working on some pretty powerful data analysis that will allow counselors to predict the relative 'risk' of a student's list (and thus know which students to reach out to first when it comes to troubleshooting).

Next Thursday evening, September 29, I will be sharing with students and families information about the 2017-2018 FAFSA. As such, I wanted to make sure to attend the Department of Educations FAFSA session at NACAC this year. I left the session feeling like the Dept of Ed actually has a pretty decent handle on this rollout and I hope, hope, hope I'm right! We got some nice resources to be able to share with students and I also got the impression that the new FAFSA will be far less complicated than it has ever been in the past. The key for any senior reading this post right now is that you should go ahead and get your FSA ID if you haven't already. Your FSA ID (one parent from the FAFSA will need one too) is your electronic signature and you'll need the ID before you can fully submit the FAFSA. Imagine how crowded that site is going to be on October 1 when the FAFSA goes live? Can you picture it? Ok, now go get your FSA ID right now. Here is the site:

My final session of the day was about working with students with learning disabilities. As we have more and more diverse learners at ElRo, I want to do my best to be prepared to work with them and serve their needs. The session covered a lot of ground but I'll leave a few of the more useful tips here:
  • Students who have been previously evaluated with a WISC probably should request a new evaluation once they are 18 because the C in WISC stand for 'children' that tool is not going to serve a student in adulthood. 
  • There is a big difference between a "support program" and a "students with disabilities tutoring center". Most colleges offer the latter, often in the form of peer tutors, but the ideal setting for a student with a learning difference is to have a professional special education in a formal support program. About 75 programs have been identified by the presenter and he directed us to the NACAC textbook to see that list. (*I had no idea there was something called a NACAC textbook!)
  • A great way to help students focus (especially if they have ADHD) is to have them stand in a 'power pose' for two minutes (recommended pose: hands in fists overhead). This helps release testosterone and combat cortisol - an ideal combination prior to giving a presentation or taking a test. 
The final portion of the day is the annual Counselor College Fair. This is about as overwhelming as you might imagine, with every college present and every high school counselor going from table to table picking up material. It is certainly a nice time to reconnect (and see who has moved schools!) but it is exhausting.

Tomorrow is the final day of the conference and I look forward to a few more sessions before leaving Ohio!