Springfield High expands personalized student advising

Springfield High School expanded its personalized advising sessions this year for students to include sophomores and partners from higher education institutions.

The sessions can help students develop plans to achieve their goals and avoid mistakes that might derail them, educators said.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 35 volunteers from the city schools, the community and four local colleges met with 430 students to discuss their career aspirations and future plans, review their high school accomplishments so far and set goals to keep them on the right path.

“This whole concept is rather rare across the state in terms of providing feedback to children in terms of both academic and non-academic barriers that they might face and putting them in contact with universities and colleges,” said Kim Fish, the district’s communications consultant who lead the effort.

For the past three years, the district has asked high school students to take an assessment, called EPIC, that asks questions about their attitudes toward academics, study skills, knowledge of the college admissions process and other factors in academic success.

It started with about 100 students who are in the Champion City Scholars, then expanded last year to 180 juniors. This year, the EPIC advising sessions, which cost the district about $19,000 to train for and execute, were also offered to 430 sophomores and juniors, some of whom brought their parents.

Most schools across the country that use the EPIC assessment take that data to analyze the entire student body’s attitudes and how the staff’s messages are being received, said Fish.

“EPIC told us we are the only district in the country that is using this on a per student basis,” she said.

Springfield receives results on each student’s response about their feelings toward school and their abilities. Then an adviser reviews that information and the student’s transcript before a 30 to 45 minute session, where they talk about the student’s goals and possible paths to get there.

Brittany Estep, a sophomore, might want to be a veterinary technician. During her session with her adviser, she received recommendations to look into biotech and biomedical classes offered at Springfield and volunteer opportunities at animal shelters.

“It was helpful,” she said. “It helped me to get things done, to know where I needed to go, what to do, who I needed to talk to.”

The school chose sophomores and juniors because they are in a good position to start thinking about where they want to go after college and have time to take steps to get there.

“It’s too early to think about scholarships,” said Fish, during an advising session. “But it’s not too early to make sure your grades and your experiences line you up to be a really good candidate for it.”

JoAnn Bennett works at Wittenberg University and her daughter is a Springfield High sophomore. She volunteered for the advising.

“I actually thought it was, for me personally, it was interesting,” she said. “I also think it was useful for a lot of the students … I’ve worked at Wittenberg for a long time and I’ve just been going through the process because I have a son who’s a freshman in college … and I know the process can be overwhelming.”

As a parent, she appreciated that someone else would tell her daughter the things she’s been reinforcing for years.

“She’s probably tired of hearing about college but I think it’s probably good for her to have someone look at who she is and give her advice, too,” she said.

Todd Jones, an academic adviser at Wright State and former Springfield school board member, held advising sessions with 10 kids, all of whom had questions.

“This gives me an opportunity to talk about opportunities after high school, what the price is, how to plan for it, what type of courses they need to take, what type of tests they need to take,” he said. “But also to share (scholarships dollars) that are out there as well.”

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