The global pandemic drastically changed the sophomore year for those who are now facing graduation this spring. Amid a trying 18 months, students need educators more than ever to help them through the college application process.
To better understand why so many graduates from the 2020/2021 class postponed attending post-secondary education, Strada Education Network surveyed over 1,000 graduates who decided to postpone their plans.
The responses of those students surveyed point towards solutions for getting these students back on-track. I would argue that these areas of focus also apply to supporting current seniors in their college application process to prevent more students affected by the pandemic from putting off college. The top solutions were in areas of guidance, affordability, and connecting education to career.
In this article, we review 5 ways educators and counselors can support seniors during college application season to help alleviate the inevitable stress felt by students.
1. Embed the College Application Process in Your Future-Readiness Curriculum
Part of the stress students face when applying for college stems from not knowing what they want to pursue as a career, or even having a general career direction. Give your students a program throughout the entire high school journey that allows them to get to know themselves, investigate career paths, and narrow down their options. When this process is prioritized in a curriculum consistently, students aren’t left like deer-in-the-headlights when senior year comes and big decisions need to be made.
In the Strada Education Network survey, one of the solutions the surveyed students identified in helping to get them back on track towards college was a stronger connection between college pathways and careers. By using a future-readiness program like Xello throughout high school, students are able to investigate real-world educational requirements for specific careers as well as see related career and post-secondary options.
2. Centralize the College Application Process for Everyone’s Sake
What typically characterizes the college application process? A lot of steps, documents, checklists, applications, specific deadlines, and scattered information. To streamline the process for your students, centralize as much of the information and process as possible so there’s less confusion around where everything is.
After students have gotten to know themselves better in Xello, investigated career options, and created plans for college, they can now apply for college directly on the platform. Xello’s College Application tool allows seniors to track their college application deadlines, requirements, and progress.
Students are prompted to create applications for each of their desired schools where Xello automatically populates a checklist of application requirements, showing your students exactly what needs to be submitted for each college. Students also have the flexibility to personalize their checklists by adding custom tasks such as a creative portfolio or interview, and assigning due dates to individual requirements.
3. Prioritize One-on-Ones with Seniors
For those students who will be the first in their family to attend college, they don’t have siblings or parents to help guide them through the often difficult process. Along with their senior year courses, these students will be navigating the college application process as uncharted waters, making the role of school staff that much more critical.
In the Strata Education Survey, students identified ‘guidance’ as the top solution that would help get them back on track towards college. Having someone at the school to provide guidance is a crucial component of the college application process for many students. This relationship alleviates stress and uncertainty for students, gives them someone (outside of their family) to chat through ideas with, is a source of information on financial aid, and more. Hats off to the school and district counselors out there!
Providing guidance one-on-one for students isn’t always realistic, especially if your school or district has a high counselor to student ratio. There are lots of Xello Lessons that counselors can advise students to complete if students need more guidance beyond their time with their counselor.
Xello-made Lessons are a series of fully interactive, engaging learning experiences that help students build the skills and knowledge they need to become future-ready. Students learn about critical concepts like decision making, different learning pathways, work-life balance, and career demand. If these Lessons haven’t been made mandatory for your senior students, these can be completed before a guidance session, during a session, or afterwards as a follow-up:
- Career Path Choices: by the end of this lesson, students will understand that career development is a process of constant change, that flexibility and adaptability can help them continually explore their career options, and the importance of re-evaluating their interests, skills, etc. in order to identify the need or desire for a career change.
- Careers and Lifestyle Costs: by the end of this lesson, students identify some of their most important lifestyle goals and assess whether or not they can achieve their lifestyle goals in a career that interests them.
- Choosing a College: by the end of this lesson, students identify which factors are important to them in a potential postsecondary school, and investigate how a college or university stacks up to their priorities.
For a full list of Xello Lessons and their recommended grade level, click here.
4. Save Everyone Time with Trackable Transcripts & Letters of Recommendations
Student transcripts are a necessary component of the college application process, but it doesn’t need to be the cause of stress for students or the administrators managing everything behind the scenes.
Xello’s Transcripts tool makes it easy for students to request the documents they need to successfully complete their college application requirements. Once a student creates an application in Xello, they can request the required transcripts with a click of a button. The transcript request is sent to your high school administrator, who fulfills the request where the transcript is submitted to the college right from Xello! And there’s no need for students to be pestering their administrators — Xello’s built-in tracking ensures students are informed of the status of their transcripts, keeping administrators free from questions, concerns, and follow-ups from students.
In Xello, students can also request letters of recommendation from within their application checklist. And, like Transcripts in Xello, students are able to track the status of the requests from within their Xello account. It’s important to craft a clear and concise request, so students are educated about the process of requesting a letter of recommendation and are offered tips on what makes a good request right within Xello.
5. Help Your Students Navigate How to Finance their College Education
There is the researching, applying, and meeting deadlines portion of getting into college, but then there’s the whole paying for college that is often an after-thought for students. Once students come to terms with the cost of college, it can feel out of reach and many forgo their top choices in favour of those with a lower price tag. Regardless of the college a student ends up applying to, it’s important that students and their families understand and consider all financial aid opportunities available to them before making these difficult decisions.
Empower your students and their families to make sound decisions with the simple tools and resources found in Xello. Especially when one-on-one counselling for seniors isn’t a reality during college planning time, Xello acts as a central hub for both students and educators for all college-related tools and financial aid resources. Xello’s College Planning hub is where students can learn more about the FAFSA application process, search for local scholarships that match their profile, and request a transcript for their school application. Under the Knowledge Hub, students can click directly into a topic of interest to learn more about their options when it comes to paying for college. The resources housed here are written by a team of content experts, vetted by educators, and designed to help instill confidence by serving content that’s short, straightforward, and easy for students to digest and understand.
Using the Local Scholarships tool, students can quickly find relevant and valuable local scholarships that they can apply to. To enable students to view and search local scholarships in Xello, educators simply add and publish the scholarship pages from within the College Planning section of Xello’s educator tools. Adding a new scholarship is as simple as filling in a set of standard fields in a template and hitting Publish. Moving these scholarships out of a spreadsheet and into Xello improves accessibility and enables students to search for scholarships by name or keyword, and to sort the list by deadline or award amount.
Get Started Using Xello for College Applications in Just a Few Clicks
Not yet using Xello to help ease college application stress? Xello’s college applications tools are available to your grade 11 and 12 students who are looking to get organized for next year. To get started, book your demo today here.
Wishing you a seamless and successful college application season!