How do we measure success? Some measure success through wealth, power, and prestige. Others may measure success by how quickly they advance in their careers. But how does one truly measure success in one’s chosen field? For a football player it’s easy. Success is measured in yardage gained, or in the amount of tackles or turnovers, or passes: thrown, caught, or intercepted. For a police officer, success can be measured in the amount of arrests or convictions or criminals apprehended, cases solved, and people brought to justice. The list goes on. Doctors, lawyers, salesmen, each having their own metric for measuring success and each having their high achievers who either meet or exceed that metric.
But what measurement of achievement do we assign to the College Support Specialist? How do we measure their effectiveness or the overall benefit of their role? The easy answer: by how many children graduate and go to college. This answer is not completely false. It is however more than likely that you have not been working with the child from K through 12 and have not been the only one who has assisted them from 9th through 12th grade. You are not the one in the classroom teaching them English, math, and science. And while you may not be the parent, teacher or administrator, your roll in the educational process is no less vital.
College Support Specialists provide the connective tissue between the student and the seemingly arduous task of deciding and implementing a pathway to college, helping the student along the way by providing guidance and support. There are many access points to college and many goalposts to navigate. Whether it be completing college applications, applying for financial aid, taking the SAT and performing well, or simply finding the college that meets the student's academic and financial requirements, a lot of responsibility is being placed on students who arrive to the table with varying levels of “responsibility”.
It then becomes our task, as College Support Specialists, to provide a sense of urgency; to ignite the proverbial “candle underneath the butt” of the student, stressing the importance of both follow through and due diligence. These are terms often foreign to children who have all their lives had someone tell them what to do and when to do it. Yet, as is the case with most things in life, change and growth is inevitable. The role of the College Support Specialist is at once to: give aid to what is required immediately and provide a light revealing the next steps. We are a part of a larger system that gives children the great gift of education, the passing of knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next.
In the final analysis, perhaps it can be said that the measure of success for a College Support Specialist can ultimately be found in the investment we make in our students. The scholarship rssay you helped the student with and the awards won. The financial aid that assisted the student with securing monies that allowed them to afford college, the time you spent running that SAT course providing the edge that student needed to hit their target score.
Success is not always measured in broad strokes, but sometimes in small moves and tiny victories. People in education know this well, for ours is a success that will almost never be rewarded with great wealth, position or fame. Our ultimate reward and the only true measure of our success, rests in the many successes of our students.
College Prep Specialist - Abraham Lincoln High School
For more information, please contact:
Free Library of Philadelphia
The Office of Public Service Support (TOPSS)
College Prep Program
1901 Vine Street, Room 5A
Philadelphia, PA 19103