I look for professional development opportunities for the school year. I work in the Los Angeles area and have found quite a few this year. The usual conferences like the CSU Counselor Conference and UC Counselor Conference are great to learn about updates about those specific colleges and network. However, I like to attend conferences that will provide something new in the areas of personal/social counseling and college counseling. I am a college counselor, but have had no formal training in the area. Yes, I did learn mostly everything in the field, but I love to hear what others are doing.
I found workshops, offered for free, by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). The workshop series is called “The Counselor’s Resource Network.” I have met some really great high school and middle school counselors at the workshops. Some of the topics of the workshops are suicide prevention, homeless and foster youth, transition youth, and data. I cannot wait to see what the May workshop has in store. LACOE also offers workshops about bullying prevention, PBIS, gangs, crisis management and a few others for a small fee.
Most recently, I attended the WACAC Share, Learn, Connect conference because I am always looking for ways to better my college counseling skills. The college admissions perspective is held high on a pedestal with these organizations and that is why I attend these conferences. If I am looked at as the expert in a field, then I want to have the knowledge. There’s two sessions that stood out for me.
Harvard, Berkeley, or Bust…
The presenter is a college counselor from the private company Collegewise who is paid to work with students on the college admissions process. He also has college admissions experience which I have found is a plus in the field. Makes sense. I liked his approach because he encourages students to research where I feel students think I am a magical fairy, superhero, who just knows everything. Although I am flattered, students should research where they will possibly end up in college. If it were up to me, students would apply to the University of Alaska (a fascination of mine). He gave great advice such as have students look on Wikipedia to see the famous alumni. Of course, I see this as a starting point.
www.payscale.com- look at majors and careers that pay and the value of a college degree.
Colleges that Change Lives
FISKE Guide to Colleges
Review different websites such as Forbes to learn about the quality of teaching, career prospects, graduation rates, and low levels of debt and the Center for Measuring University Performance for academic research.
I do give students suggestions on what colleges to research and have them do the research on their own. However, I will do things differently from now on in the beginning stages of research. A great tip is having profiles of the colleges available for students to read. This will get them thinking about different colleges. Plus, this will also give them ownership of the process.
Out of State Colleges…
Regional Admission Counselors of California (RACC) is an organization of out of state colleges that have representatives in California. They spread the word on well known and some lesser known colleges. This session interested me because many of my students go to local colleges. There are pros and cons to going to a local college, but there are so many colleges out there. The reasons why students may do this is because of the lack of knowledge. On RACC’s website I found some great resources to assist students in their college research process. This will be especially helpful in my junior college counseling meetings next year.
RACC will also come out to your school to do a college fair. Our annual college fair takes place in the fall. I may change things up a little bit and do an out of state college fair this fall.
Another highlight of conferences is visiting different college campuses. The University of Redlands in Colton, CA hosted this conference. I have heard great things about the university but being there in person brings everything to life. The university is gorgeous. It reminds me of Loyola Marymount University, a little smaller and more classic buildings, but so beautiful with the combination of grassy areas and buildings. The neighborhood around the university is residential with some lovely homes.
Next year, I hope to attend the annual WASC or NACAC conference. I had the opportunity to network with a counselor from Victorville, Palisades and Riverside and who have different roles and situations at their schools.
See you in the next blog!