Excellence in Education | Introducing Naviance, a powerful education and college-planning tool
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Deciding what you might want to be when you grow up and the prospect of selecting and applying to a college can be a little intimidating.
Fortunately, our district high school students have a unique and powerful tool working for them.
Named Naviance, this compelling web-based counseling program is giving students and families access to a comprehensive education and college-planning tool specially designed to harness technology and a nationwide database of educational information in a more productive way than ever before.
Introduced to the district by North Tahoe High School Counselor Jeff Ream in the fall of 2012, the school already has approximately 85-90 percent participation. After arriving at North Tahoe High two years ago, Ream’s initial observation of students at the school was a large gap between students who were college ready and those who were not.
In addition, there was also a significant gap between students who were ready for college but not informed about the options available to them. Many believed they either couldn’t afford a four-year university or were not cut out to be successful in college. Ream’s aim has been to correct these misconceptions and Naviance is the perfect tool to make it happen.
Overall the goal is to steer the district to a point where there is a strong culture of college and career preparedness with plentiful access to information and college prep tools.
HOW IT WORKS
At the start of each school year, Ream spends time with the incoming freshmen to set up access to the online system. Each student has their own login to their individual home page.
This portal provides access to several different tools. The first thing each person does is complete a personality assessment test/questionnaire. From there, the system produces a list of relevant career paths or jobs that suit the student’s likes, strengths and ideas. The list offers detailed information about each job, such as common salaries, job descriptions, and what majors students might consider and more. This career pathway is a starting point to chart an educational path, which can continue to evolve throughout high school.
Utilizing the career search information, the program then gives students an area where they can search school courses and create a multi-year class schedule that meets the graduation and college application requirements for their intended course of study. Here they can focus their electives into a specific direction of learning, set goals and create to-do lists.
During their junior and senior years students turn their focus to the college selection and application process. This is where the “Super Match College Search” functionality comes into play. This is a customizable search tool.
Students have dozens of search criteria, with more than 4,600 different schools included.
For example, a student can select a major, then a tuition limit, a university size, select a specific sport they would like to play, a campus setting and a geographical region … and voila! The search spits out a varied list of schools, from four-year universities to community colleges and trade schools.
“My biggest goal has been to increase awareness for furthering education and opening up options for our students,” Ream said. “What I like about this search feature is that it often suggests schools that a student may not have ever heard of, or considered, and these schools often meet all their educational goals and personal criteria.”
Once a student finds an institution of interest, they can save it to one of two lists: “schools I’m thinking about” or “schools I’m applying to.” The search can be changed and criteria filtered in hundreds of ways, offering new options for all types of students.
Finally, once a student has selected a school to apply to, that process is also a functionality of the Naviance system. Important deadlines, application requirements and all related information are provided to students to ensure the greatest potential for success.
Naviance is powerful and loaded with features including a way to search for scholarships, edit and update a resume, and allow teacher and parent involvement to aid students in meeting their goals, as well as a free SAT prep course called PrepMe. Similar courses can cost in excess of $300 and via Naviance, this feature is available to all participating students for free.
District Superintendent Dr. Rob Leri worked with Naviance in his former school district and gave Ream unequivocal support; however, funding was not immediately available in the school budget. Unwilling to delay, Ream applied for and was granted funds via the Excellence in Education Foundation.
“Naviance is precisely the kind of educational tool that our Foundation is pleased to fund,” said Laura Brown, executive director for the Foundation. “Our goal is to bridge the gap when there is a shortfall between district funds and opportunities for our students.”
Fortunately, Naviance has proved successful.
Over the past two years North Tahoe High has already seen a 13 percent increase in students enrolling in college. Given the success, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has picked up the annual funding to maintain this program into the future, reinforcing the goal to steer the district to a more college and career focused culture. Truckee High School implemented the program this year.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, there is an app for that!
For more information about Excellence in Education visit http://www.ExinEd.org.
Katja Dahl is an Excellence in Education board member.
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