Starting a College Planning Book Club
Through our work with schools and school districts throughout the United States and in Bermuda we are providing important college admissions and financial aid guidance to thousands of students and parents. However, there are simply too many students and families continuing to lack access to sufficient college planning information within their schools and communities. Subsequently, we were inspired by Patrick Johnson, Director of Equity and Excellence, in the Tacoma Public Schools, and his work in creating book clubs for elementary and middle school students.
Click here to see the Tacoma Public Schools Book Club video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lbajG6XSb8
We have followed Patrick’s lead and now support College Planning Book Clubs in schools, churches, and communities throughout the country to ensure that more students and families have access to important college admissions and financial aid planning information.
In addition to the foundational texts, A High School Plan for Students with College-Bound Dreams (book and workbook), used to begin each book club, we provide monthly activities to guide the reading and research of book club members. In addition to the Starting a College Planning Book Club activity that you may download to guide your efforts in starting a book club, following are some of the activities that book clubs have received during 2014 to guide their efforts.
Activity 1: A Context for the Conversation
Develop a context for the many conversations that will occur between you, the student, and your parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors, tutors and anyone assisting you with conceptualizing your college-bound plans.
- What is my plan to maximize my 2 million minutes of high school?
- What is my anxiety level based on where I am in the college planning process?
Activity 2: My Student Profile
Develop a student profile to focus your college and financial aid research.
- What is my current student profile?
- How can I compare my profile to those of other students?
- How can I use my profile to guide my scholarship research?
Activity 3: High School Graduation Requirements
Ensure that you are fully aware of your progress toward fulfilling your state high school graduation requirements and that you understand the requirements for state sources of financial aid.
- What are my state’s high school graduation requirements?
- What are the course requirements for admission into the state university system?
Activity 4: Self-assessment—My Gifts and Talents
Perform a self-assessment of your gifts and talents and identify those areas that may be further developed during high school to qualify for merit-based scholarships or to expand your college admission opportunities.
- What are my gifts and talents and am I working hard enough to develop them to the level necessary to influence college admissions and scholarship opportunities?
- Am I maximizing opportunities within my school and community to develop my gifts, earn recognition, and serve in leadership roles?
Activity 5: Whom Do I Need on My Team?
Determine the college planning support you currently have or will need.
- How competitive will it be to gain admission into top colleges?
- How much work will be required to develop a high quality college application package?
- Who are the people or what are the programs from which I will require support?
Activity 6: Developing My College List
Develop a list of colleges that will provide the context for your college planning activities and conversations.
- What type of college, i.e., large institutions, liberal arts, highly competitive, special focus schools (e.g., visual arts, music, theatre arts, HBCUs, military service academies, etc.) community colleges, or technical schools would I like to attend?
- Where can I research information about the colleges on my list and identify similar types of colleges?
- What are the benefits of pre-college programs, Honors Colleges, and Study Abroad programs?
Activity 7: Self-reflection and Self-assessment
Engage in a self-reflective and honest self-assessment of your level of competitiveness in the college admissions and scholarship application processes.
- How do I compare to the type of students who apply to the colleges on my list?
- What is the Common Data Set?
Activity 8: AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment
- Understanding the impact of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Dual/Joint Enrollment on college admissions.
- Understanding how to research the potential tuition savings of AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment classes.
- What are the AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment options at my high school?
- Which program is most closely aligned with my college and career aspirations?
- What are the potential tuition savings for each program?
Activity 9: Course Work and Teacher/Counselor Evaluations
- Developing your high school course schedule.
- Identifying what will be required to receive the highest teacher/counselor evaluations.
- What level of course work is expected by the colleges and universities to which I am planning to apply?
- What type of academic assistance is available to support my enrollment in the classes I am planning to take?
- What personal qualities will my teacher and counselor be evaluating?
Additional college planning book club activities will be posted as they are released.