GAA201C: College and Career Counseling for Special-Population Students


GAA201C: College and Career Counseling for Special-Population Students

The College and Career Counseling for Special-Population Students module was developed for practicing professional school counselors, pre-service school counselors and college access professionals. It includes six sessions that address the skills and knowledge required to help special-population students prepare for college and careers.

Participants will be engaged in building knowledge and skills in several areas, including understanding and identifying special populations, building support systems, planning for school, maintaining records, exploring the college application and financial aid processes, and helping students successfully transition into education after high school.

Participants will engage in constructive discussions in a learning community with their colleagues during each session and will complete practical, hands-on activities throughout the course. 

What Are Special-Population Students?

Special-population students, as defined by Perkins IV are:

  • individuals with disabilities
  • individuals from economically disadvantaged families, including foster children
  • individuals preparing for nontraditional training and employment
  • single parents, including single, pregnant women
  • individuals with other barriers to educational achievement, including individuals with limited English proficiency

This course will specifically address the needs of the following special populations:

  • homeless students
  • students in foster care and wards of the court
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBTQ students
  • migrant, immigrant and refugee students
  • court-involved youth

This course assumes knowledge of the content covered in the Go Alliance Academy modules I-III (Building a College-Going Culture for All Students; College, Career and Academic Planning; and Financial Aid and College Applications). Participants should have taken modules I-III prior to taking this module or have demonstrated knowledge of the material covered in modules I-III.

Session 1: Understanding and Identifying Special-Population Students

In this session, participants will learn about the unique needs of special-population students, as well as professional and ethical strategies for identifying and advocating for special-population students. Participants will learn how to work with other professionals in the school system and in the community to support these students, as well as how to develop a referral process for special-population students. 

Session 2: Building Support Systems for Special-Population Students

In this session, participants will learn how to create a safe and supportive school environment for special-population students, as well as how to connect these students and their families with community resources. Participants will also learn strategies for educating professional colleagues on the needs of special-population students. 

Session 3: Academic Progress and Planning

In this session, participants will review methods to support special-population students in maintaining sufficient academic progress through high school graduation. Participants will explore ways to develop self-advocacy and resilience in special-population students. Participants will develop a better understanding of their state and local policies and procedures regarding credit recovery, alternative graduation options and appeals processes for graduation.

Session 4: Postsecondary Exploration

In this session, participants will learn about the specific support needs that special-population students have to be successful in a postsecondary environment. Participants will also develop a deeper understanding of the kinds of supports available on postsecondary campuses and build their knowledge of which postsecondary institutions offer specific supports for different special-population students. Finally, participants will learn how to assist special-population students in researching and selecting postsecondary options that will provide a safe and supportive environment for postsecondary study.

Session 5: The College Admission Process and Financial Aid

This session explores the nuances of the college admission and financial aid processes for special-population students. Throughout this session, participants will develop an awareness of how to support students in receiving accommodations and fee waivers; learn strategies to support students in completing their college applications; understand the special considerations for different special populations when completing the FAFSA; and research grant and scholarship resources targeted for special-population students. 

Session 6: Transition to College

This session focuses on how to support special-population students during their transition to education after high school. Participants will work with colleagues to develop tools and resources for advocacy on campus; learn strategies to avoid summer melt; and practice strategies for helping special-population students anticipate and address barriers to success in postsecondary education.