Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Second-week Check-in

News and notes from the School Counseling Department

We are more than a week into the school year, and it seems like things are going well. There wasn't an overwhelming number of families who waited until (or beyond) the last minute to enroll in school, and thanks to our tripled efforts to give students more support in academic planning for this school year, we have had far fewer-than-usual issues with students second-guessing their electives or core course levels.

Between Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah, this will (hopefully) be a quiet week before we dive into classroom visits:
September 9: Ninth graders - orientation to high school and the role of the school counselor
September 10: Twelfth graders - college applications and resources
September 11: Tenth graders - Hitting your stride in high school and setting goals
September 12: Eleventh graders - Understanding the importance of junior year

During those classroom sessions, we will introduce the students to a new initiative we are establishing this year, based on responses on our needs assessments, which we are calling "Transition Tuesdays." Many students feel the need to talk about things that they are experiencing, but are not always comfortable missing class to do so, and can't find an appropriate way or place to discuss them. Therefore, we will hold an open group every Tuesday during students' lunch periods, to process transitions that they are experiencing (grieving the loss of a loved one, the separation of a family, new arrivals to Pikesville, or preparing for new challenges, etc.) Students just need to come to the conference room during their lunch shift on Tuesdays. If this ends up drawing a larger crowd than anticipated, then we'll make alternative plans.

If you haven't yet, please complete this year's needs assessment survey so we can identify areas of strength and potential at http://tinyurl.com/PHSCounsNeeds13 - anonymity is completely optional.

Between September 20 and October 2, students will activate their accounts at Naviance, a college and career planning portal with which BCPS just began a multi-year contract. Naviance is how we will submit transcripts and recommendation letters to Common App members and other colleges.

Upcoming events, so please mark your calendar:
October 3 at 7:00pm: College Planning Workshop in the PHS Library - this is planned to be facilitated by our admissions representative from Towson University, Ms. Loryn Strauzer. If time permits, parents can also get their personalized Naviance access codes.
November 12-13: NACAC College Fair at the Baltimore Convention Center
December 12 at 7:00pm: Financial Aid information night, with Dr. Benee Edwards from MHEC  (to explain FAFSA) and Jennifer Bauer from Central Scholarship Bureau (to explain scholarships).
February 6 at 5:00pm: #PHSfit College Fair with planning workshops. Expect the cafeteria to be a flurry of activity with college admissions representatives from dozens of colleges in our region, as well as college planning workshops presented by local college admissions consultant Craig Meister from Tactical College Consulting.

One feature in Naviance is the ability for students to sign up for information sessions with college admissions recruiters. Many of our visits that are scheduled for the fall have already been posted to the edline calendar. Students may come see Ms. Billingslea in the school counseling office to sign up for information sessions until their Naviance account is active. After that, we ask that students sign up prior to the day before the visit so that Ms. Billingslea can make a hall pass for teachers to allow the students to leave class.
The following college information sessions are already scheduled:
September 18: Bryant University (10am)
September 19: Dickinson College (8:30am)
September 23: Ithaca College (8:30am)
September 25: Elizabethtown College (9am)
September 26: Washington College (10:45am)
September 27: Stevenson University (9am) and American University (1pm)
September 30: Towson University (8:30am)
October 1: Tufts University (11am) and Muhlenberg College (1pm)
October 2: McDaniel College (9:15am)
October 3: High Point University (8am) (by this point, all students should be signing up in Naviance)
October 7: Goucher College (1pm)
October 8: Washington University of St. Louis (9:30am)
October 15: University of Southern California (12pm)
October 22: George Mason University (1pm)
October 24: Lycoming College (9:30am)
October 30: Albright College (9am)

October 25 will be this year's administration of the ASVAB, an assessment that is used for college planning, and also is required for those who plan to enlist in the military. Students who take the ASVAB are under no obligation to enlist. Sign up on Naviance.

October 16 will be a very big day, and is worthy of its own blog post. Until then, know that ALL PIKESVILLE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS will be engaged in college and career readiness activities. The 9th graders will take the ReadiStep, the 10th and 11th graders will take the PSAT, and the 12th graders will have their annual Senior Mock Interview Day (SMID) and other college and career planning exercises.

As always, don't hesitate to email or schedule an appointment to discuss any questions or concerns. We are very proud that our proactive efforts are having their desired impact, which allows us the opportunity to provide more schoolwide programming to benefit all students.

One last note - inspired by some school counselors in other states, we are trying to raise funds for each school counselor to have an ipad so that we can be more mobile in the school and have immediate access to college and career planning resources, as well as take immediate notes of student contact. If you would like to donate to this cause, you may do so at Donors Choose. Once the first two devices are fully funded, we will work to identify funding for the third. If you use the promo code "INSPIRE" at checkout, DonorsChoose will match donations of up to $100 by September 8.

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