Welcome to the 2017 College Planning Cohort (TM)
We have many important changes to our College Planning Cohort (TM) Program for 2017. The program will now operate on a calendar year from January through December. All students who joined the cohort in 2016 will receive a complimentary one-year renewal. As outlined in our College Planning Cohort Blog Posting, high school counselors are often responsible for 200 - 500 students or more and in extreme situations may be responsible for as many as 1,000 students ('The High School Guidance Counselor Shortage' Pratt 2013). When working with such a large number of students, it is unlikely that counselors can provide hands-on and longterm guidance to students, particularly those who are most in need, such as students from financially challenged families, those who will be the first in their family to attend college, students who are immigrants or undocumented, and students who are simply overwhelmed with the college planning process. First Lady Michelle Obama (in this video) provides encouragement for students. However, no matter how inspired students may be, they will need guidance and support through the college planning and scholarship processes. College Planning Cohorts (TM) are designed to compliment the role of high school counselors by assisting students and families with developing 'Strategies' to maximize each student's K - 12 opportunities for gaining admission into the 'right' colleges and qualifying for the 'right' scholarships.
Note: Registration fees do not apply to participating students in Guilford County Schools (NC), Florence County School District 3 (SC), Lanier High School (TX), United Ghana Christian Church (GA), and with the Bermuda Youth Foundation.
However, as Ms. Obama notes, students and families must accept responsibility for seeking out the guidance and support of knowledgeable people to assist with their college planning--planning that must begin long before a student becomes a high school senior.
How are the activities assigned?
We publish a year-by-year schedule of the type of actions (College Planning Cohort Year-to-Year Actions) in which high school students should be engaged. Any student can freely download this guide. The College Planning Cohort Activities provide step-by-step guidance and support the year-by-year actions that students can:
- Complete independently, as part of our national cohort;
- Complete as part of a 'Small Group' being guided by a Small Group Coach (e.g., counselor, teacher, coach, mentor, or parent), such as students at the Turner Chapel AME Church (Marietta, GA), Lanier High School (Austin ISD, TX), at the United Ghana Christian Church (Austell, GA), and through the Youth Development Foundation in Bermuda; or
- Complete as part of a 'College Planning Cohort' sponsored by a school district such as students in Florence County School District 3 (SC) and First Generation Students in Guilford County Schools (NC).
Monthly activities are assigned on January 2, and on the first of each month thereafter throughout the calendar year. Registered cohort students may download assigned activities at no charge. Non-cohort students, parents, mentors, or teachers may download college planning activities from the Rising Sun Publishing website at a cost of $4.95 each. Parents and students unable to join a cohort, may select the activities most appropriate for their situation, such as developing a high quality résumé, researching colleges and scholarships, identifying 'test optional' schools, military pathways, writing high quality essays, and developing their 'brand.'
What should students do after completing each activity?
Each assigned activity is introduced by an 'Objective' and 'Guiding Questions.' Together, these are designed to clarify what students should learn from completing the activity and inspire deep thinking as students complete the lessons associated with each activity. Students who are serious about pursuing their college and career aspirations, should successfully complete the following 3 steps each month:
- Engage in conversations with their Small Group Coach (e.g., parent, counselor, teacher, coach, or mentor) sharing what they learn from each activity.
- Save an electronic document, with the activity name (e.g., activity_1.doc), onto a permanent digital media (e.g., flash drive, cloud, hard drive) and place a printed copy behind the appropriate tab in the student's College Planning Notebook.
- After completing all of the assigned monthly activities, students are encouraged to submit a 1 - 2 page narrative to our experts, summarizing what they learned from each assigned activity, together with any questions.
Note: We will assist students with the critically important activity, "Developing an Academic Résumé."
How much time will be required to complete the activities?
Each activity provides an estimated time required to complete the activity. These times typically vary between 30 minutes to 2 hours. More comprehensive activities may have an undetermined amount of time based on each student's college/career aspirations. The activity schedule typically requires that students make a commitment to completing one activity per week, which can generally be completed on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
How will I know if I am completing the activity correctly?
Students and Small Group Coaches may email questions regarding any activity. However, all of the assigned activities are discussed in our monthly webinar, conference call, and face-to-face meetings. Monthly face-to-face meetings are scheduled for participating students in the Atlanta-area, with high school students in Florence County School District 3 (SC), First Generation Students in Guilford County Schools (NC), and students at the Bermuda Youth Foundation. The schedule of webinars and conference calls are communicated to all participating students via email and our monthly newsletters.
Overview of January's Activities
January's focus is all about preparation—preparation for engaging in the college planning process, and preparation for developing a 4-year academic and extracurricular activity involvement plan. January's activities will provide insight into each student's gifts and talents, and the types of plans that may be purposefully developed over the course of each year of high school, including summers, to assist each student in becoming a competitive candidate for college admission and scholarship consideration.
Clicking onto each activity will provide a link to the download. For registered students, the price will change from $4.95 to $0.00 at checkout.
- Activity 1: A Context for the Conversation
- Activity 2: My Profile
- Activity 3: What are My Gifts and Talents?
- Activity 4: Developing an Academic Résumé
- Activity 5: Self-Assessment
- Activity 6: Get Organized
- Activity 7: Summer Planning
- Activity 8: Social Media, Usernames, and Passwords
- Activity 9: Creating My Brand
These nine activities will serve to provide a context for the conversations between students and their small group coaches throughout 2017 and will guide the goal-setting activities in February.
Bonus Activity: Are you an athlete, musician, artist, dancer, or actor/actress? If so, do you have a résumé summarizing your achievements? Developing a Special-focus Résumé
Do you have questions for the experts?
The College Planning Cohort experience is focused on learning. However, learning is more than simply reading a book, watching a video, completing an activity, or writing a narrative. Learning is about all of these things and more—reading, writing, research, self-reflection, and engaging in conversations are individual learning activities.
However, combined together, they form comprehensive neural pathways to for developing critical thinking and achieving deep learning regarding the college planning process. Talk to any cohort student and they will tell you how much 'smarter' they are than their peers regarding college admissions and scholarships.
"Mr. Wynn, none of my teachers or the students at my school had ever heard of 'Diversity Weekends' or many of the colleges offering them."
"Mr. Wynn, I told my AP Language Arts teacher about the 'non-cognitive variables' considered when reviewing college applications and essays and her response was, 'What are non-cognitive variables?'"
The activities are designed to guide students through deep learning processes, shrink college knowledge gaps, expand college pathways, and reveal scholarship opportunities that will allow students and families to make the best college choice and avoid student loan debt. Students and parents who have questions that remain unanswered after completing the activities, or develop questions as a result of having completed an activity, may have their questions answered by adhering to the following guidelines:
- Students desiring expert feedback must submit a narrative summarizing what they learned from each of the assigned activities, together with any questions.
- The narrative must be submitted in the MLA Format (as outlined in the 'Get Organized' activity
- The subject for the document is "the month's activity summary" (e.g., January's Activity Summary)
- Students must summarize all assigned activities, so that we are assured that the activities were completed
- Submit up to one question per activity on the final page of the narrative summary
- Submit the document to our team (in Microsoft Word document format) at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- We must receive the email by the final day of the month in which the activities were assigned
"What if I have a college-bound plan? I am taking advanced classes, earning good grades, and participating in school-based activities. Isn't that a good enough college-bound plan?" No! For each student taking honors-level classes and earning 'A's,' there are thousands of students taking AP-level classes and also earning 'A's.' For each student participating in school-based activities, there are thousands of students participating in school-based activities and serving as officers, receiving local and national awards, and creating their own companies and non-profit organizations. For each 'good' athlete, there are nearly 25,000 students who are the top athlete in their respective high school, and over a thousand athletes who are the top athlete in their respective sport and position in each of the 50 states (not to mention in the many other countries from throughout the world). Despite stellar academic credentials, each year, thousands of valedictorians and salutatorians are denied admission into their top choice colleges and do not receive top scholarships.
Developing a competitive college-bound plan requires focused, determined, and persistent effort. The assigned activities are designed to guide students and small group coaches through the process of conceptualizing comprehensive college-bound plans. However, whether or not a student gains admission into top colleges and qualifies for the necessary scholarships to pay for college will be, in part, based on each student's work ethic and personal commitment to following their plan.