Focus: College and Career
May 12, 2020
Sign Class of 2020
When my youngest son was in preschool, I remember looking ahead and being excited that he would graduate from high school in the year 2020. It was a date that signified the start of a new decade while symbolizing the next chapter of his journey. Fast forward to today, with the closure of schools and mandatory social distancing, our students, especially our high school seniors, feel an even greater loss knowing that day-to-day social interactions with friends and teachers for the rest of the school year likely has come to an end. The important events and milestones that they are missing make this time of year so special. What are they feeling? How are they coping?

As school counselors, this is typically the most exciting time on campus. At the high school level, now is when seniors make commitments to college or decide to attend a trade school, join the military, or even go straight into the workforce. At this time, they might be preparing for a final performance in a concert or play, completing a senior project, or signing yearbooks with their friends. When I look back on my own senior year, the end-of-the-year activities and events are the memories that I remember the most.

From a parent's perspective, we feel the loss and we want to do everything we can to fill the void. In a sense, we are mourning too. When my son's school offered a free yard sign and made a personal phone call to make sure that he ordered a cap and gown for a modified graduation ceremony, it meant a lot knowing that plans were being made and that they were thinking about him. When I reflect on the past 12 years, my son has had many challenges and was able to overcome many of them because of the teachers, school counselors, and administrators who spent time getting to know him. Although he may not have the traditional events to take part in, it's the journey that matters.

THIS WEEK'S FOCUS: College and Career
There is a lot to consider as we end this school year and plan for the next. Connecting with families and ensuring their safety and well-being, coupled with celebrating end-of-year promotions and graduations, are at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet we must provide both. We also need to remember our 11th-grade students and consider their needs as they navigate through the beginning stages of the financial aid and college application process. There are several webinars and learning opportunities this month to help guide you through these conversations. It's never too early to help kids discover their passion and provide possibilities and hope for the future during uncertain and challenging times.

#Graduate Together
#GraduateTogether: America Honors the Class of 2020

The XQ organization has partnered with The Lebron James Family Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to celebrate high school seniors throughout the country with a first-of-its-kind  national graduation that will air simultaneously on network television, social media and streaming platforms. The event will feature LeBron James, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Yara Shahidi, H.E.R., Megan Rapinoe, Bad Bunny, Lena Waithe, Pharrell Williams, Ben Platt, and others. This one-hour primetime special airs on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, and will be streaming on multiple online platforms.

  • Saturday, May 16
  • 5 p.m. PST

Graduation, Curated by the Class of 2020
Seniors are encouraged to submit stories at and tell producers what they would like to see during the graduation ceremony.
  • Share your stories about remote learning quirks, inspiring tales of educators going above and beyond, or anything else that you think needs to be told on Graduate Together’s website.
  • Encourage your seniors to submit photos and short video segments that tell the stories of their achievements.
  • Ask your seniors to submit photos for the first-ever National High School Yearbook in partnership with JR’s Inside Out participatory photo project.
College & Career Signing Day
Host a Virtual College and Career Signing Day

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) with Reach Higher and National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) can help you plan your best College Signing Day celebration Former First Lady Michelle Obama is committed to helping students reach higher by completing their education past high school. She continues to celebrate College Signing Day through Reach Higher to recognize the hard work of students to pursue and complete their postsecondary education, whether at a two-year school, four-year university, or through an industry-recognized credential or the military. Reach Higher encourages you to celebrate College Signing Day online, virtually, and via social media to recognize students’ efforts and accomplishments. During this recorded webinar , Reach Higher, which is now at the Common App, will share a toolkit to help you host a signing day celebration online with your students and introduce you to new partners to help you make this your best signing day yet. 
Reach Higher Virtual Commencement Celebration with Michelle Obama

Join former First Lady Michelle Obama on June 6 at noon for a commencement celebration to salute your commitment to higher education. Over the past month, President and Mrs. Obama have received dozens of requests from around the globe to address graduating classes whose in-person commencement events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Join them on YouTube's "Dear Class of 2020," a virtual commencement celebration bringing together global leaders, celebrities, creators and other voices to celebrate graduates, families and their communities.

This event is open to everyone. We encourage all high school seniors, college seniors, parents/guardians and educators to join at
Immigrants Rising logo
Undocumented? Going to College? Have Questions?
Live on Instagram every Monday from 3 to 4 p.m. and Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m., Immigrants Rising will provide an opportunity for undocumented high school or transfer students to ask questions on how to apply, attend, and pay for college. Students will receive answers to education-related questions and be reassured that they do not have to give up on their academic dreams. Encourage students to watch at @immigrantsrising on Instagram.

RCOE School Counselor On-the-Go Webinar Series

All webinars are all scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon.

These workshops from the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) are designed to support sites and districts with planning a College Kickoff 2020 event and share potential ideas to maintain engagement in college and career readiness activities in our new learning environments. RCOE will be presenting best practices, grade-level appropriate lesson plans, and tools on how to create and launch your own event. 
Riverside County's College Kickoff 2020 event will be Oct. 14. College Kickoff 2019 included 76 high schools, 74 middle schools, and 94 elementary school sites across the county.
To ensure the security of each webinar and in order to track needs for future topics, RCOE asks participants to register for each session through the related OMS link by 5 p.m. the day before the scheduled webinar. You will then receive an e-mail with the Zoom link to use for the webinar or you can dial in.

To access previous webinars and resources, follow these  directions to create a free account on the RCOE website.

Financial Aid and College Planning Workshops
Understanding how financial aid works and how to navigate families through the process can be complicated. The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is hosting two webinars in partnership with Sallie Mae, a company that offers free college planning tools, private education loans, and online banking to students and families. The new learning opportunities are designed to support school counselors' understanding of financial aid offers and find ways to help students and families plan and pay for college. 

Navigating Financial Aid Offers/Award Letters
Wednesday, May 27
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

  • How to understand financial aid offers
  • Key items to compare between offers
  • Explore grants, scholarships, work study, and student loans
  • Calculate the remaining balance
  • Learn about helpful tips and resources such as the such as Sallie Mae's Paying for College Resource

College Planning Tools and Resources
Thursday, May 28
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Saving for college
  • Calculating financial need with the FAFSA
  • Finding and applying for scholarships and grants
  • How you can access Sallie Mae’s free tools and resources such as Sallie Mae's Paying for College Resource

*Participants will need to download Skype for these webinars.

Beyond Standardized Tests: Using Performance Assessment in College Admissions
Wednesday, May 27
11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

A growing number of colleges and universities are expanding the ways they evaluate student admissions applications in order to gain insight into students’ deeper learning skills, such as collaboration, problem-solving, and communication. These skills are best demonstrated through performance assessments, such as student portfolios and capstone projects, that have not traditionally been used in most college admissions processes.

This webinar will look at the outcomes of a pilot program at City University of New York (CUNY) that uses performance assessments to admit qualified applicants with scores below the threshold on college entry exams.The discussion will be based on findings from a Learning Policy Institute report on the use of these assessments for equity and access in the CUNY system.
If you have any questions or comments on the San Diego County School Counselor Network newsletter, please contact Tanya Bulette, counseling coordinator, at .
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