Preparing students for college begins early in Upper Arlington schools.
College Center counselors work not only with seniors but with students in grades nine through 11 and start to reach out to parents of even the youngest students.
Upper Arlington High School Principal Emilie Greenwald and College Center counselors Mark Davis and Kathy Moore talked about the College Center to school board members at a meeting on Monday, Nov. 12.
Davis said “collaboration” has become an important tool.
“We collaborate with teachers and other office and district counselors,” he said. “The college readiness process has become a partnership and collaboration on all levels is very important.”
Davis said 160 to 175 representatives from colleges come to the high school for meetings with students in the College Center each year.
“The colleges hold our school in high regard,” he said.
Moore said all freshmen are required to take the ACT Explore test, while sophomores take the ACT Plan test and juniors take the PSAT (preliminary SAT test).
She said the Explore test helps students identify areas of academic strengths and weaknesses in English, math, reading and science. The test also includes a career-planning section to help students consider career options.
“These tests give us great data to look at and allow us to examine students’ career interests,” Moore said. “The tests also highlight weaknesses so that we can plan for appropriate intervention and determine a percent of college readiness.”
She said students are given access to the online program “My College Quickstart” to download additional practice tests.
Moore said she likes to begin getting to know students as freshmen.
“A large goal of mine is to get to know the students early, so when they come to me as a junior or senior, I won’t be meeting them for the first time,” she said. “I want to be a presence in the building so that students won’t hesitate to approach me.”
Moore will take over for Davis when he retires at the end of December.
“We are beginning to develop meetings for parents of younger students, kindergarten and up,” she said. “Even elementary parents should begin preparing financially for college.”
Davis said the collaboration of counselors at all grade levels is “vital to this process.”
“The school counselors see the kids as soon as they first walk through our buildings,” he said.
Through the online program Naviance, with Family Connection, students can submit information to colleges through a common application, Davis said.
He said the site can be personalized for each student, listing data that include “colleges I’m thinking about.” It also allows college and scholarship searches.
“This is a site that students and parents can use wholeheartedly to get through the college process,” he said.
Moore said the College Center also helps parents and students through the convoluted process of applying for financial aid.
“We see parents come in so overwhelmed by this process, which is why it is so important to meet personally with parents,” she said.
Parents may learn more about the high school’s College Center by visiting the high school website, uahs.uaschools.org, and clicking on the “College Center” link at the top of the page.