Site Counselors in the Schools
May 15, 2001
The Site Counselors in the Schools provide high school students with a direct link to the UW and support in the admission process.
During the 1999-2000 school year, the UW Office of Admissions placed two counselors in eleven Seattle, Tacoma and Renton high schools. The counselors were selected based on their desire to improve the participation of underrepresented minority students in post-secondary education and their ability to represent the UW and college-student life, as well as their potential to relate to a cultually diverse group of idividuals. Throughout the year, site counselors offered classroom presentations, workshops concerning college applications, minimum requirements and criteria for admission, SAT and ACT preparation, one-on-one counseling, and general encouragement and support to students. Site counselors were in each of the various schools one-half day per week, and were available to students on a drop-in basis or by appointment. A third counselor was added during the second year of the project to serve Yakima Valley schools. The goals and activities remained the same as during year one.
The second year evaluation of the project used multiple data gathering methods. Both Site Counselors were interviewed, principals in their schools were surveyed, and high school resident counselors were interviewed on-site. Qualitative data were analyzed using constant comparative methods and survey data were analyzed for frequencies of response and means.
Site Counselors articulated multiple activities for outreach and recruitment this year, including presentations to large groups and one-on-one contact with students. Both Site Counselors felt that their presence is now expected at their high schools which leaves them feeling that there is too much to do at too many schools in too little time.
Principals' responses to survey questions were fairly positive, with their highest rating for Site Counselor professionalism and their lowest rating for how well the project matched their expectations. They want to see more visibility of the Site Counselor in their schools through regular notification of their visits, more classroom presentations, and increased contact with student groups.
Resident counselors reported that Site Counselors assisted students with the process of admission and provided one-on-one counseling. Resident counselors suggested Site Counselors attend assemblies at the beginning of the school year, help with arrangements for UW campus visits, and give personal attention to students when they fill out applications for college. For the help they need, resident counselors suggest that Site Counselors be at their high schools one full day each week.
Overall, the evaluation suggests that the concept of the Site Counselor in the Schools Project has merit but could be improved by identifying specific goals and continually checking for goal attainment, and by increasing the level of supervisory involvement and support.
At the conclusion of the 1999-2000 school year, UW site counselors and resident counselors were asked to complete surveys regarding the nature of their experiences and thoughts concerning improvements needed in the next year. Two surveys were developed to gather project evaluation information: the Resident Counselor Survey and the Site Counselor Survey. The Resident Counselor Survey was developed by the coordinators of the Site Counselors in the Schools project and administered to resident school guidance counselors and teachers. The Site Counselor Survey was developed by the Office of Educational Assessment, with input from the project coordinators, and administered online to the two site counselors.
Responses to the Resident Counselor survey indicate that the most effective means of reaching students in the schools is through a consistent on-site schedule and classroom presentations. The wide variation in student awareness of the site counselors across schools indicates that counselor projects and involvement is not standardized. The most valuable site counselor services include assistance with applications and essays, as well as SAT/ACT preparation, but the role of site counselor support and encouragement cannot be overlooked.
The site counselors themselves appeared to be satisfied with the progress made, considering that 1999-2000 was the first year of the project. One noteworthy component of the project is the lack of training and preparation provided to the site counselors. Making a measurable difference in the lives of students not otherwise inclined to apply to post-secondary institutions is one of the most important outcomes of the project.
From the first-year findings of this project, two major recommendations can be made:
Copyrightę 2001 UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON Office of Educational Assessment