Changes Introduced to the EHS Counseling Curriculum

Brooke Sheehy, page editor

“Change” is an ideal word to describe this school year. Edina High School is grappling with major changes to its physical space, student body, bell schedule, and staff and administration; the list goes on and on. One change that’s been especially apparent to juniors and seniors is the change in the school’s counseling curriculum.

Since the start of the year, counselors have spent a lot of time with each grade level talking with students to help them determine the right fit for their life after high school. Naviance, a website designed to help students find a college and career readiness solution, is the main tool that Edina counselors have used for their post-secondary curriculum. The college search tool helps students find colleges that fit their educational and environmental needs, and helps them refine their search to colleges they want to apply. The feature of the “College Search” tool often helps students decide whether an institution is a right fit for them because it provides them with data on the academics and social setting of the institution as well as statistics from previous Edina High School students who applied to each specific institution. These statistics include their standardized test scores, GPA, and whether they were accepted, rejected, deferred, or waitlisted. “Naviance has built in activities to help [students] learn more about themselves, and really it is about each student having their own retrospective journey. These tools are going to help students narrow down their options, and ultimately help them apply for whatever is next,” guidance counselor Julie Block said. Whether they’re entering the workforce, enlisting in the military, taking a gap year, or pursuing a post-secondary education, students can use Naviance to find the future path that is right for them.

The counseling department is making a conscious effort to make sure that all students get the same information regarding post-secondary planning. Because the school looks so different this year, EHS counselors decided to include the Naviance curriculum in advisory. “All of the students are to be doing lessons in advisory. Once a month each grade level will meet with their counselors in a large group setting. The idea is that all students will be getting the same instruction over the course of four years,” guidance counselor Bill Hicks said. By implementing curriculum in advisory, the counselors hope students will be more proactive and start their post-secondary planning earlier.

This year, freshmen and sophomores will focus on discovering their interests and passions by taking a career interest inventory test and compiling a year-by-year plan for the rest of high school. Juniors will mainly focus on goal setting, crafting a game plan of what each student plans to do after high school, and building a smart college list composed of both reach and safety schools. Seniors will focus on solidifying and tracking their post-secondary plans with the Naviance application. “If college applications and post-secondary planning is ever seen as an overwhelmingly stressful part of a student’s life, then we are not doing our jobs right. This should be seen as an exciting experience that should be enjoyable,” Block said.

This new curriculum is built to help students get to know their counselors better. The idea is to start big with Naviance activities in advisory, and as the year goes on advisories will split into smaller groups to meet with their counselors. If a student wants to meet one-on-one,walk-in counselor meetings are held every day from 11:30 pm to 12:15 pm. There is an iPad located in the counseling office where other appointments can be scheduled.

Aside from the Naviance tool, counselors are putting an emphasis on taking advantage of college information visits. The college and career center across from the Media Center holds daily college visits where representatives from colleges and universities come to Edina to talk to students about applying to their institution. In the meetings, representatives hand out information about academics and life on campus, while answering any questions students have regarding their school. It is a great way for students to demonstrate interest to admission officers, and get a feel for whether or not the school is right for them.

Naviance, counselor small-group meetings, and college information visits are all tools provided to students in order to help them “find their fit,” a phrase the counselors coined to describe seniors’ post-secondary plans after high school. “It is important that kids realize that they know who they are and that they are happy with the decisions that they make based on who they are, instead of doing something because it is what everyone else is doing. [Post-secondary planning] is an individual journey about finding oneself, and it is a personal choice for everyone,” Hicks said. While college is a great option, it is not the only option, nor is it the right option for everybody. There is a whole world of possibilities just waiting to be explored, and because counselors are passionate about their students’ success, every EHS student has the opportunity to be well prepared for their life after high school.