District looks into new college-planning program

Justin Ho, Staff writer

For a school that has produced more than 2,800 graduates, it’s an important question where these graduates have ended up especially for a college prep school such as West Shore.

During the past 20 years, alumni have landed at places such as MIT, Harvard and Stanford while others have played professional sports. However, while these select few are known, the majority often fall off the radar after they leave because tracking their careers is difficult.

In an attempt to gain more information, West Shore and three other schools have agreed to pilot a new college planning and tracking software. The Naviance program provides a range of functions for students, including the ability to send transcripts to colleges without going through guidance, to research colleges related to a student’s interest and to find potential careers based on a student’s course work and interests.

The program also can be used to submit applications to multiple colleges from one location much like the Common and Coalition applications. But one way the program shines compared to the others programs is in its handling of school transcripts. Students who apply to schools that use the Self-Reported Student Academic Record, an online transcript program, will not be required to fill out the transcript and will instead be able to send transcripts directly to the schools.

The program also allows administrators and guidance officials to administer surveys and to collect key information such as education aspirations, targeted careers and planned majors. Also, using SAT and ACT scores, the program will track and create a benchmark for students to determine if they are on pace to meet the requirements of their chosen college and how they compare with their peers.

As of now, testing coordinator Mike Drake and the guidance department are working with teachers to implement the program.

“We are currently communicating and planning with the career research teachers about introducing the ninth-graders to the program,” Drake said. “We want to guide the students into what profession they would be interested in and what colleges that they would be interested in. So as they progress through high school, they can focus on courses and classes that help with their interests.”

While current efforts are oriented towards rising ninth, 10th and 11th grade, the school also is planning to incorporate the program into its plans for seniors.

“After the seniors return from break we are going to decide a day to take them all into a computer lab and to get them situated into the program,” Drake said. “As of now, a lot of the plans are still in the works, but I hope we can get it done.”

Currently students can access the program through their Launchpad accounts but the quiet addition of the program on the student’s dashboard has some confused and wondering.

“It seems like it could be a very useful tool but nobody has really told me about the full extent of its usefulness,” junior Ben Aronson said. “I’ve just been using it to browse different universities and check out the classes they offer and the test score ranges of usual applicants.”

The district is in the opinion phase of the pilot and is seeking feedback from students as who use the program to decide whether or not to invest in the program