As if high school isn’t awkward enough – being “different” (or at least feeling that way) can only compound a student’s anxiety as they try to navigate the teenage years. So how can you, as a trusted counselor, offer support to students as they seek to find a path that is right for them after high school?
Being different can be challenging in the high school hallways, but it can be a great advantage on a college campus. Not only do many colleges across the nation offer unique opportunities for minority students, female students and those seeking non-traditional majors, but there are also a lot of opportunities to earn money for college for students who don’t mind touting their differences!
Here are some areas to consider/discuss as you help students identify what makes them special, and how that can work to their advantage as they prepare for college.
• Pride and joy. Ask students what they are most proud of. Is it their heritage? Their family background? A hobby they enjoy? Oftentimes, what they take pride in is something that makes them unique. From skills and talents to religion and race, make sure students know that what makes them different is the very thing that makes them so special!
• State the unobvious. Differences aren’t always glaringly obvious. Maybe a student who is left-handed has never thought twice about the fact that he or she might be eligible to earn a scholarship for this trait. Be sure to ask students to identify the “small stuff” that may seem unimportant to them, but may pay off big time when it comes to school.
• From bad to good. Unfortunately, bullying is a very real problem in our schools today. But thanks to the light being shed on this issue, many students are speaking out. If a student has experienced bullying in high school, encourage them to use that experience as a way to positively impact others. How can they help other students being bullied for the same/similar reasons? Is the reason they were bullied something they can share in a college admissions essay? The best essays come from the heart, so carefully lead students down a path to appropriately share their experiences as a way to shed light on a more serious issue.
• Heart’s desire. Maybe a student has their heart set on a particular college or type of school. Whether it’s a young woman who is interested in women’s colleges, an African American student who would like to attend a historically black college or university or an exchange student who is looking to continue their American education, there is a college for everyone. Help them first identify what they want (if they don’t already know) and then offer insight into ways to narrow down the options.
Remember, every student is different, but you’ll never know just how different until you take the time to ask. They look to you to guide them through high school and beyond, and if you can help them celebrate their differences along the way, you will make positive impact on their lives that far exceeds their high school years.
For even more helpful information and resources for students looking for the perfect college, use our College Match tool NextStepU.com/Match