2016-11-04 / Schools

Students use Naviance to plan for the future

Seniors can apply for college through computer program
By Michael Aushenker

In an effort to get middle- and high-schoolers ready for their futures, Simi Valley Unified School District has introduced Naviance, a one-stop, computer-based college and career preparation tool.

The program supports students in three main areas — success planning, career planning and college planning — via guided lessons with counselors, teachers, and college and career staff.

“ Naviance has allowed schools and counselors to better track, manage and analyze data about students’ college and career plans,” SVUSD director of secondary education Deborah Salgado said in an email.

“The counselor/teacher side of Naviance provides efficiency and streamlines the college application process. Counselors can quickly view how many seniors have college applications pending, where they’ve applied, and/or where they’ve been accepted.”

Shannon McCabe, the district’s Naviance coordinator, is overseeing the program’s implementation at SVUSD schools. Last fall, all middle-school and high-school counselors received training in the system. More than 9,700 SVUSD students in grades six through 12 have Naviance accounts.

“Students and parents are increasingly using the program and becoming more aware of the powerful resources their Naviance account holds,” Mc- Cabe said.

‘A powerful tool’

“(Naviance is) an extremely powerful tool that helps our students have better access to college and career opportunities,” McCabe said.

The process begins when a student creates a Naviance account, which parents can also log into, to track their academic progress and check out “career clusters” to help them identify a high-school pathway.

“Career clusters are a way of grouping careers with common features and skills,” McCabe said. “Careers grouped into the same cluster typically require similar education and training.

“Exploring clusters can be a useful way to find a good career match, especially if you have general areas of interest but are not sure what specific careers match those interests.”

Last school year, Hillside Middle School introduced Naviance to eighth-graders, who must complete a semester-long career research project culminating with the school’s spring Portfolio Day.

“All of our eighth-grade students built resumes in Naviance, took personality assessments, researched different careers and added them to their Naviance student profile,” said Hillside counselor Cheri Toyen. “Activities completed in Naviance stay with the student profile throughout high school.”

This year, all three grades at Hillside have opened Naviance accounts.

Hillside Assistant Principal Mark Sheinberg said students are never too young to embrace the program because the tool can help them identify general areas of interest that may determine the rest of their course concentrations.

Sinaloa Middle School counselor Tammy Herzer rolled out Naviance among Sinaloa’s seventh and eighth-graders last year. This year, sixth-graders are also in the program.

Herzer said Sinaloa’s sixth-graders begin to explore their future by taking a “Career Cluster Finder Survey.”

“This career survey helps students (identify) potential careers based on activities of interest, personal qualities and subjects students enjoy studying in school,” Herzer said.

Seventh-graders will complete the Learning Style Inventory Assessment and the Multiple Intelligence Advantage Assessment.

“These assessments help match students’ personalities and learning styles to potential careers of interest,” the counselor said.

Sinaloa’s eighth-graders will also prepare resumes for spring’s Portfolio Day.

College-bound

Nicole Sudberry, a counselor at Royal High, has been encouraging students and parents alike to discover Naviance’s benefits.

“We will also have an informational parent night upcoming on Dec. 5 to explain the site to families and provide an overview of what Naviance is capable of doing for their child,” Sudberry said. “Seniors utilize this site the most, as this is where they are applying for colleges and scholarships and requesting letters of recommendation and transcripts.”

Hillside’s Sheinberg said students can also use the program to help them decide whether to pursue a two-year, four-year, or military college education.

California’s university and college systems are using Naviance during the admissions process, so the accounts will give “a really clear picture of who this student is,” he said.

The student decides what Naviance data to share when applying to his or her academic institution of choice.

“Colleges or universities do not look at students’ Naviance accounts,” McCabe said. “Through Naviance’s electronic database, students can request letters of recommendation, school forms, transcripts, etc. to be sent to colleges to which they are applying.”

Thanks to the Naviance database, McCabe said, SVUSD has been able to determine that students in grades seven through 12 attending the 2015-16 school year sent out over 3,050 active college applications to more than 350 academic institutions.

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