AOC'S HELPING HAND
A look at the process
In an age where student debt is at an all-time high , I realized that education was in need of a shift to better prepare students to engage in our rapidly-changing economy.
As developments in technology disrupt what we consider to be economically valuable, there is a new demand for students that contain an interdisciplinary skillset .
With the uncertainty of the economy in consideration, looking inwards had prompted me to realize that my high school, the Academy of the Canyons, contained a severely outdated, yet integral component in its academic program: the AA degree. While spending their summers or winters taking COC classes, many students fail to invest in the exploration of their academic pathway or the development of skills that allow them to pursue a specific pathway. I felt as if our students lacked the direction and mentorship to properly make these decisions.
A look at the process (continued)
Realizing that a lack of direction was a main component of the problem, I envisioned a mentorship program that would allow our students to engage with alumni that have already navigated the college process, as they currently engage with their academic interests.
Providing such support is particularly key for our school, where a majority of seniors in the class of 2020 agreed that they felt blindsighted by the college process. 95% agreed that earlier exploration of academic passions is beneficial, while 65% agreed that receiving guidance from a mentor would have been helpful .
To learn how to properly structure my program, I contacted Harvard Westlake High School and Loyola High School, two private high schools that contain alumni mentorship programs. I learned that engagement was a significant aspect to prompting students to engage in a mentorship program, which prompted me to envision a website that contained aesthetically pleasing and visually appealing elements.
: Senior Career Exploration SEL Survey. Pictured to the right.
Studying potential model-solutions
My communication skills were on full display as I contacted the school counselors at Loyola High School and Harvard Westlake High School. Both experiences allowed me to practice my ability to remain professional over the phone, as well as my ability to articulate a complex message in a concise manner. Both counselors were very willing to provide the information about their respective schools' mentorship programs.
Surveying the class of 2020 provided the assurance that there was a glaring need for a mentorship program for students at my school. 65 % of the members of my class agreed that receiving guidance from a mentor in their academic pathway would be beneficial , which was a key component to developing my confidence in advancing the idea forward. Further discussions with select faculty would also re-affirm my perspectives, which gave me the confidence to discuss the importance of pathway exploration in underclassmen advisement classes.
Looking onward to the program's potential
My calling in life is to serve as many as I can, utilizing my skills to spread opportunity and to create innovative solutions when I can. As such, developing the Helping Hand program has truly been a gratifying experience, and I look forward to continue to collaborate with Mr. Malkowski and Mrs. Cubbage in order to advance the program forward.
I strongly believe that every student deserves a fair chance to properly navigate the college process and to understand the stakes behind our rapidly-changing economy. As a student that felt blindsided by the college process, my hope is that the Helping Hand program will become an integral component of the AOC experience, with the hope of ensuring the postsecondary success of the next cohort of students for years to come.