College Counseling and Creating Change

As head of my school’s affinity group for First-Generation-American students, I have always felt a responsibility to provide the members of our group with a safe space to communicate their feelings and resources to be better able to navigate the world. For example, we have had discussions about a variety of topics, ranging from mental health in multicultural households to the languages we want to teach our children. Usually, my co-head and I draw the line there, fulfilling our goals for the group with these discussions or presentations for the school; however, we have always wanted to do more in terms of problem-solving for our members, but felt a bit lost with no idea where to start.

Well, at the beginning of this year, we got an exciting challenge: our college counselors reached out to us for advice on how to better serve First-Generation students in their college application process. Thrilled to get a chance to fix an issue within our school, we began to work with our group to identify key areas where the college counselors could improve.

We then used the information we received from our members to come up with specific ideas for what could be done to improve the college counseling program. For example, we came up with the ideas to have informational zoom meetings available in different languages, sending emails to students as well as to parents, and an essay-checking committee where students who have parents that may not be able to help them edit their personal essays could send the essays to a group of volunteer English teachers. But despite our amazing ideas and confidence that they could really fix an issue within our community, we also felt a lot of doubt: after all, we were just two teenagers attempting to tackle a systemic issue within our school, who’s to say that anyone would really listen?

We pushed aside our fears and continued to speak to adults about our proposals and were so happy to find out that our hard work paid off. Most of our ideas were approved by our college counseling office and will be enacted for the rising class of seniors!

Creating change at your own school can seem like a very daunting task, but with the support of a few trusted adults and peers, some creativity, and some determination, you can do it too! Find something that you believe needs to change in order to better serve your community, reach out to a friend or teacher that will support you, be creative and come up with ideas to fix the problem that you found, and take action!