College and Career Advising in the Elementary Grades

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This module, developed for practicing professional school counselors, pre-service school counselors, and college access professionals, includes six sessions that address the skills and knowledge required to help elementary grade students prepare for college and careers. Participants will be engaged in building knowledge and skills in several areas, including the creation of a college-going culture, the value and affordability of postsecondary education, career exploration, using data to support student success, academic planning, transitions to elementary school and from elementary to middle school, and helping students to develop academic mindsets and skills. Participants will engage in constructive discussions in a learning community with their colleagues during each session, and complete practical, hands-on activities throughout the course. 

The term “college” is used throughout this course to refer to any postsecondary education or training at a Pell-eligible educational institution beyond the high school level, including those that offer apprenticeship programs, certificates, and associate and/or bachelor degree programs. 

Session One: Developing A College-Going Culture in Your Elementary School

In this session, participants learn about the importance of developing a college-going culture in elementary school; the barriers to success many students face; and strategies for establishing a college-going culture, including how to work with faculty to promote one. Additionally, participants practice identifying the barriers their own students face and propose strategies to help students overcome the barriers.

In this session, participants learn to:

  • identify and address barriers within the school culture that impact students’ ability to reach their education and career goals 
  • help faculty identify all postsecondary options and how different higher education degrees and credentials lead to different career paths
  • use effective strategies for creating a college-going culture in the elementary grades

Session Two: Helping Elementary Teachers, Students and Families Understand the Value and Affordability of Postsecondary Education

Elementary school is a foundational stage to expose students to the idea of education after high school. Studies have shown the majority of parents want their children to attend postsecondary education, but many parents believe college is too expensive and do not have the necessary information about financial aid, low-interest loans, and scholarships. This session equips participants with tools and strategies to communicate the value and affordability of a postsecondary education.

In this session, participants learn to:

  • communicate the value of higher education for individuals and society and that anyone can pursue postsecondary education
  • provide an overview of the costs of higher education and the types of aid available and convey to students and families that college is affordable
  • communicate practical, grade-appropriate knowledge about college planning to elementary students and families

Session Three: Engaging Elementary Students in Self-Exploration of Career Interests and Skills

In this session, participants learn about employment forecasts by locality, explore state-adopted career clusters, explore tools and strategies to help students understand the connections between career aspirations and academic planning, as well as learn how cultural stereotypes can influence future aspirations.

In this session, participants learn how to:   

  • use assessments and strategies to help students develop awareness of their interests, skills and abilities — and how these relate to career options
  • use state resources to promote career awareness and development among elementary students
  • use research from national- and state-recognized career clusters to assist students in identifying career areas of interest
  • provide education to students and families to help dispel cultural-, social-, and gender-specific career stereotypes

Session Four: Equity and Design Interventions for At-Risk Students

This session addresses the multiple uses of school data. It explores the use of data to uncover issues related to equity. It also explores the importance of using disaggregated school-level and individual student data to identify early warning signs for at-risk students. Participants plan interventions to support students who are struggling to be college and career ready as they progress through elementary school.

This session enables participants to:

  • identify, analyze and interpret types of data that are useful for understanding student achievement and academic planning needs
  • analyze and interpret data to identify students who may not be on a path to being college and career ready
  • plan interventions for students who are not on track to be college and career ready

Session Five: Preparing Students for Academic and Career Success

Research suggests self-regulation and resilience contribute to students’ academic performance. In addition, racial/ethnic and gender differences in school performance can be reduced by focusing on students’ attitudes and behaviors. It’s important for students to learn these skills in elementary school as they are foundational to success in high school, college and careers. This session exposes participants to strategies for helping adolescents develop a growth mindset and how academic mindsets, social skills and career-readiness skills lead to success in college and careers.

In this session, participants learn to:

  • plan transition activities for parents and students to help students prepare for elementary and middle school;
  • help students develop time-management behaviors, study skills and psychological resilience; successful learning strategies; and self-management behaviors
  • help students understand how academic mindsets, social skills, and career-readiness skills lead to success in college and careers