Moving College Readiness Beyond Academics

During Education Week’s January 31st Webinar, College Readiness and Life Skills: Moving Beyond Academics, contributing writer Caralee Adams moderated as presenters shared their experiences and knowledge gained in college readiness beyond the traditional academic setting. The event’s presenters included Mandy Savitz-Romer, professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Susan Strickland, counselor at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Savitz-Romer, whose work involves understanding how developmental sciences can promote college readiness and success for students, presented three key areas to help practitioners understand why some students end up in college while others do not. These areas are: identity, motivation, and self-regulation. In strengthening these areas, she explained that teachers, counselors, and other program staff can help students see college-going as part of their identity, move away from extrinsic motivators for attending college, and foster students’ abilities to control their behavior, manage their time, and adapt to change. As a theme, Savitz-Romer noted that college readiness initiatives have emphasized information and instrumental supports, while neglecting to stress the practical usage of the information.

Strickland has been a counselor for 15 years, and said that her practice has adapted to a new generation of students. She spoke about the importance of understanding generational differences and utilizing the strengths of Generation Y such as their tendency to be tech-savvy, their ability to learn quickly, and their appreciation for diversity, among others. Some best practices she shared when working with Generation Y included using multimedia, focusing on the big picture (what she termed “backward design”), and being learner-centered.

Before closing the Webinar, the presenters answered questions from participants concerning working with teachers and strengthening parent involvement. They highlighted the need for counselors and other program providers to use their time with students wisely, since many times programs can cut into the teacher’s classroom time. They also recommended that program staff clearly communicate with parents regarding their role in the program and work with them to align expectations for students.

For more information, view the Education Week Webinar presentation slides online.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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