We’ve all heard of Blended Learning, in fact we recently blogged about How to create a Blended High School; but now it’s time for Blended Counseling.
Last week we chatted with EJ Carrion, past Gates Millenium Scholar, and co-founder of Student Success Academy (SSA). While working as an intern, Carrion experienced first hand the problems that many schools guidance counselors are facing. With an average of one counselor to every 500 students, they often feel overworked and are lacking the time to help students prepare for college or career. On average most students spend 38 minutes with a guidance counselor, but with SSA students can spend an average of twelve hours yearly with a Success Consultant (SC).
SC’s are college students hand selected from the top 150 colleges in the country and are chosen because of their leadership, philanthropy, and academic performance. Each consultant working for SSA holds a leadership position on their campus, has received scholarships, and has participated in professional internships. This experience allows SC’s to provide guidance to HS students, help them realize their passions, identify college or career opportunities, and assist them in moving forward with specific action plans.
EJ believes “there’s a difference between being educated and being successful”, which is why SSA is very action based. SC teaches students how to send emails, help them find volunteer opportunities linked to their passions, and as EJ says, “the art of putting yourself out there and figuring out what you want to do”. SSA provides the tools to help students use their education in a successful way after high school. Students also have access to curriculum including resume building tools, test taking advice, college planning, interview practice, and they can see first hand into the life of a college student .
Although many may think SSA means saying goodbye to Guidance Counselors, that is not the case. SSA believes counselors would still be needed in schools, this program would simply free up time for counselors to track student success and be more involved with every student’s action plan. As we know with blended learning, face to face and a hands on approach is still very necessary, but there’s always room for improvement.
When a school signs up for service, SSA will provides a school Pep Rally to get students and teachers excited about the program. There is also time spent training students, teachers, administrators, and counselors, to insure everyone is aware of how the system works and the tools it provides. Teachers will have access to Weekly Teacher Notes that include the high and low points of each session, action steps a student is taking, and any important information. This allows teachers and guidance counselors to stay involved in student growth.
SSA is currently working in 9 schools and helping over 250 students. Out of the first 150 students who went through the program, 92% were able to find a local mentor in their career field and 98% of students say they now have a plan after high school. Many students who’ve gone through the program moved up in their class and even students at risk not to graduate completed their diplomas.
Continued growth is important to SSA, it’s their hope that one day every high school junior will be paired up with a SC. They’re also looking into a consumer model that will allow parents to invest in a SC to provide extended help with scholarships, test readiness, etc. There’s also word that SSA will soon be gamifying their program, which we all love!
SSA is recognizing schools that envision innovation and personalization in the classroom by offering their first time VIP Success Award. The winner of the award will receive up to $10,000.00 in services for their school and increase school recognition by helping SSA share their story. The award opens today, to enter for a chance to win just visit SSA’s contest page.