Counselors go back to school, students get ahead in college: School Counseling to offer college admission course

When the White House announced its College Opportunity Agenda to increase student access to higher education, Baltimore County Public Schools’ Office of School Counseling jumped at the call to action.

Starting today, registration for the Office of School Counseling’s two-credit, graduate-level college admission course is open for all 300 BCPS counselors. Taught by Dr. Patrick O’Connor, author of College Is Yours 2.0: Preparing, Applying and Paying for Colleges Perfect for You, the 12-week online class educates counselors in providing academic guidance, supporting the college search and writing letters of recommendation, among other facets of the college selection process. The course begins on Wednesday, September 10, and is offered free to BCPS counselors through a tuition reimbursement program.

“We believe that college- and career-readiness starts at PreK,” said Timothy Hayden, coordinator of the Office of School Counseling. “So it is important for all counselors to be able to navigate the ever-changing college admission landscape.”

“Ever-changing,” indeed: in recent years, changes have run the gamut from redesigned college-readiness tests to refocused selection criteria for and renewed competition among applicants.

Yet, despite the challenges, Hayden is confident that “BCPS counselors are uniquely placed to address the equity and access issues that sometime prohibit students from attending college.”

In fact, just last year, BCPS counselors guided 7,075 Grade 12 students toward caps, gowns and – you guessed it – high school diplomas. What is more, 3,266 and 2,539 BCPS graduates received acceptance letters from four-year and two-year colleges, respectively. And, as a class, the 2014 graduates earned more than $147 million in scholarships for their talents inside and outside the classroom.

Such successes are nothing new for Team BCPS, though. In 2012, the Schott Foundation honored BCPS for achieving the fourth highest graduation rate for African American males among the nation’s largest school systems. Then, one year later, Education Week recognized BCPS for reaching the second highest graduation rate among the nation’s largest school districts. And, as of 2014, more than half of all 24 BCPS high schools ranked among the nation’s top high schools.

With programs such as AdvancePath, College 4 Free and Diploma to Degree that already have helped to bolster the school system’s roster of accomplishments in college preparation, Hayden anticipates that the college admission training will become “just one more tool in our toolbox that distinguishes BCPS counselors as leading the way in college-readiness.”

To register for the course, BCPS school counselors can contact the Office of School Counseling at 410-887-0291.

Story by Blake Lubinski, intern, Department of Communications and Community Outreach.

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