As the interruptions for instruction and interaction continue to impact the 2020-21 school year for the foreseeable future, the summer has been a time of reflection and planned improvement. One of the greatest challenges faces by University Advisors (UA) has been the reluctancy of students to schedule meetings on their own and instead, depending upon UA’s to outreach, ensure timelines are being followed. This is an extra challenge for the current school year given there has been a reshuffling of caseloads, from 5 comprehensive counsellors to 3 UA’s; each Advisor is now working with a considerable volume of seniors that they have not worked with before. James Wicks (2020) published a great article outlining the importance of set structure to virtual meetings as well as the emerging theme of “meet students where they are”. For me, this is a vital concept in planning and preparing for the current school year. Determining each student’s comfort level with technology, how they envision meetings and taking into account, the most effective means to advise and work collaboratively. One of the biggest takeaways from last semester was the value of check-ins’ and allowing for the informal time to engage in conversation; the more the student talks the more information on their progress, wellbeing, general concerns and general social-emotional status can be determined.
The area of growth or concentration for the start of the school year is to establish and maintain structures to the virtual meetings, starting all with check-ins’ and time for group conversations, peer on peer interactions and not ‘press’ the content. The prepared lessons shall include links, access to documents that can easily be referenced on students on time, then engage in follow up to questions, points of clarity via email. My hope is not to ADD to the tasks already expected my the academic day-to-day expectations but rather, meet the students where they are at, assist them in managing what needs to be done related to university admissions without becoming daunting or overwhelming. To avoid the situation of being another task instead promote calmness to the university admission process, instill the hope concept of designing their own future pathway. To achieve this, I shall depend on the other members of the university advising team as well as the support and collaboration with the high school counsellors as we work together to implement, evaluate and revise approach in the best interest of serving the student community.