Too often, “old methods” of introducing high school students to college life still involve paid college-recruiting agents who visit their high school. These “college reps” introduce themselves, distribute printed information, discuss entrance requirements and invite applications. For those with the time and resources, a “college visit” may be included.
Both systems are usually very structured and rarely involve actually talking with college-age students. How often do high school students get the opportunity to talk with college students about being successful, both in high school and at the college level? The high school senior almost never speaks with more interesting and authentic people like first-year students, students in their area of interest, college and university professors, or students nearing graduation.
How Technology Can Change Antiquated Recruitment
21st century technologies have brought innovative communication directly into the high school and college classroom. It is the rare public school or college classroom that is not connected to the internet and does not have large screen projection capacity. These ubiquitous technologies now offer students a “window” to college students, life, expectations and recommendations for success.
High school classroom connectivity-integration tools like Skype and FaceTime may stimulate interest among students who may have never considered college. Given that the four-year college may not be for everyone, connectivity could be established between high schools and community colleges and vocational schools.
College Mentoring 2.0: The Purpose
College Mentoring 2.0 supports an authentic, real-time connective culture that supports communication between age groups and locations. High school students who have questions about a place or program can interact in real-time with near-age students within vocational, technical, community or four-year environment. Therefore, more experienced students can describe the realities of these more advanced learning experiences.
Creative applications of ubiquitous interactive technologies can provide participants with “believable and motivating” insight on prospective learning environments.
I designed and implemented just such an interactive, real time opportunity for high school seniors. My initiative accomplished three things: 1) high school students were able to ask college students questions about college life and studies; 2) college students and professors were able to offer suggestions to maximize college success; and finally 3) all of this was done in a highly engaging, no cost, no travel, no risk, innovative experience that applied proven and emerging technologies.
(Next page: Recruitment 2.0 set-up and tangible results)
Recruitment through Mentoring: The Set-Up
Permission slips need to be filled out by participating high school students and their parents for such an activity. A teacher who is instructing high school juniors or seniors can email a college professor they may have had in class, or a willing and identified university, and describe this program and its purpose.
Through initial email communication, both the teacher and professor can decide on topics that may be relevant for students to communicate with one another. I recommend a structured approach as opposed to an open forum. However, open appropriate questions are always allowed.
Through implementation of College Mentoring 2.0, I elicited the assistance of a University teacher education professor in another state. These participating college students were enrolled in the teacher education program as pre-service teachers. The class was made up of roughly 20-25 junior level college students.
From a teacher education standpoint, this interaction provided college students with face-to-face communication with high school students. The professor’s goal was to give his junior level pre-service students an opportunity for high school students to describe the makeup of the modern high school environment, their perceptions of effective teachers, and the integration of technology. A high school student’s perspective was regarded as a credible, authentic, and a very current perspective. The college students were very excited about the possibilities for both learning and mentoring.
Topics of Discussion
Questions from pre-service college students to the high school students included, but were not limited to:
- What do you look for in an effective teacher?
- Describe behaviors of positive teachers and negative teachers.
- Briefly describe effective classroom lessons.
- What recommendations would you have for someone interested in being a new teacher?
- How do you want teachers to handle conflict and violence in the classroom or within the school?
- What are the biggest problems you experience in the school environment and why?
- College students are then able to provide advice. Topics included but were not limited to:
- What to avoid in high school
- How to maintain healthy relationships
- How to apply to college
- Effectively beginning the first year of college
- Making friends in college
- Taking care of yourself in college
- Advice on how to be successful both in high school and within their future endeavors
High school students were then able to ask college students a variety of questions and elicit advice. Questions included but were not limited to:
- If you could go back and do high school over again, what would you change?
- Do you have advice regarding friendships or relationships in college?
- Can you describe the college enrollment process?
- How hard is college?
- What are college classes like?
- How do you do well in college with so many classes?
- How do you manage your free time?
- Do you work while you are taking classes?
- If I don’t want to go to college right out of high school, what do you recommend I do?
Recruitment through Mentoring 2.0: The Results
The authenticity and importance of questions and answers from both parties is revealing. Questions about academics, friendships, time management and tips filled the online sessions.
The technology permits real-time interactions with credible sources. Pre-service teachers learn from high school students. High school students who may never have had the chance to talk to college students are now being given the chance. High school students, who may have serious questions, are now getting answers.
In our case, the participating college professor entertained the participating high school students with his own evolution from a disinterested high school student to successful college professor. Participants demanded at each session’s conclusion that College Mentoring 2.0 “should happen more often.”
High school teachers and college professors are encouraged to apply ubiquitous 21st century access and technologies to reinvent the dated methods of communication between high school and college students. College Mentoring 2.0 may not only be a futuristic college recruitment method, it may also be a new methodology for college students to impact the commitment, performance, and success of high school students.
Finally, College Mentoring 2.0 may assist those who are seeking more immediate advice on how to be successful in today’s schools and communities.