Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Government Relations Committee Advocacy Day in Annapolis, MD

Contributed by Samual T. Shoge, Admissions Counselor for Washington College and Appointed Committee Chair for the Government Relations Committee
Apparently, Maryland lawmakers and their staffers really enjoy fried chicken. Or maybe it was because they were so curious to know more about who we are as an organization and what we were advocating for. Regardless, during PCACAC’s Government Relations Committee’s advocacy day in Annapolis, MD on February 20th, committee members met with well over one-hundred legislators and their staffers introducing ourselves and the message of PCACAC and providing a complimentary lunch. 
The lawmakers were extremely receptive of our message and praised our organization for the work that we did. When advocating for a reduced student-to-counselor ratio in the public schools, I often asked the younger staffers to think of their college counseling experience to add a different perspective to the conversation. I received very mixed responses ranging from excellent to non-existent. The ones who mentioned that they didn’t have a good experience were quick to mention their counselors were simply over-extended, supporting PCACAC’s initiative of a reduced student-to-counselor ratio.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the NACAC team uncovered Delegate Kaiser’s (D-District 14) legislation that would require schools to have a 1:250 counselor-to-student ratio in the Maryland Public Schools and spend at least 80% of their time providing direct services to students. Titled H.B 571, the proposal was absolute gold as that is the balance NACAC is trying to achieve nationwide based on recommendations from the American School Counselors Association. We used our advocacy day to throw our support behind H.B. 571 and encouraged lawmakers to do the same. We submitted a written testimony to Delegate Kaiser’s office after the event as the bill was scheduled for a committee hearing the very next day.
It is always a pleasure serving in a capacity like this for PCACAC. As the newly appointed chair of the government relations committee, I can say that we will continue to advocate on PCACAC behalf to lawmakers in not only Maryland but Virginia, Delaware, and West Virginia as well. Volunteers are always needed! If you would like to join the GRC and get involved with exciting public policy advocacy, email me at sshoge3@washcoll.edu.

The Senior Questionnaire at Norfolk Academy

Contributed by
Katherine Hobbs, Associate Director of College Counseling for Norfolk Academy
As we all know, writing a letter for seniors whom we do not know well can be a challenge, so at Norfolk Academy, we require that our rising seniors answer a series of questions that will help us to write more detailed counselors’ letters.  We are happy to share some of these questions with you, and we would love to hear about some of yours as well!
1. Describe your relationship(s) with your parents or legal guardians.
2. Tell us about defining moments in your background, and how these experiences have influenced you.
3.  Tell us about an incident in which you felt that you accomplished something good.
4.  As an individual, what unique contribution can you make through your background, interests, beliefs, faith orientation, or world view that would enrich a college community?
5.   If you have any grade(s) that you consider less than satisfactory, please explain.
6.  Tell us about your organizational skills and work habits. Do you meet deadlines easily? How much time do you put into your work?
7.     What motivates you? What is your passion?
8.    Describe your reading habits. Do you read for pleasure? What sorts of things do you like to read? Has any book made a significant impact on you? In what way?
9.   Describe an accomplishment in any area that you achieved through grit - sheer determination, hard work, and perseverance.
10. Describe some specific academic experiences that you have found stimulating, challenging, or rewarding. Which subjects do you enjoy the most? Why?
11. Name some teachers whom you admire or who have made a difference to you, and explain their influence.
12.  Tell us about a time you failed. How did you respond to it, and what did you learn from it?
13. What three adjectives best describe you? Tell us a story about a time you exhibited each adjective.
14. How do you spend your free time?
15. What are your aspirations in the college process? At this point in the process, what kind of college are you seeking?
16. What majors or course of study are you considering? Are there certain careers that you are considering?
17.   What are you hoping to do in college?
18.   Describe your involvement in sports. What do sports mean to you?
19.   Describe your involvement in the arts. What do the arts mean to you?
20.   What did you do last summer? What are you doing or did you do this summer? Describe the value of your summer activities.

A Norfolk Academy Tradition: The College Poster

Contributed by
Katherine Hobbs, Associate Director of College Counseling for Norfolk Academy

As our seniors make their final decisions in the spring, they fill out spaces on a poster indicating their destinations.  Some of these entries are artistic, humorous, and clever.

Looking Back

Contributed by Joan W. Mudge, Senior College Counselor for Garrison Forest School
By the time of this year’s conference in Richmond, I will formally be retired from college counseling at Garrison Forest School.  It is with very mixed emotions that I realize I am ending a wonderful relationship of over three decades with PCACAC.  My first conference was in Ocean City in the early 80’s (for those of you around who still remember, it’s the one where the major meeting room was over the ice rink and we all froze).  I sat at a table at one of the meals with Terry Scarborough and Leigh Sherrill who convinced me to put my name on a list of people interested in serving. Before that spring was over, I had a role and from then on, I was actively involved in PCACAC.  I can’t begin to name all the wonderful people I have met or the invaluable skills I have gained through this remarkable association. It was PCACAC members and leaders who convinced me to run for office in NACAC leading to an incredible three years on the Board and the opportunity to get to know professionals from all over the country and the world.  PCACAC has been an incredible family for me and even though I may be moving on to other adventures, I know that I will keep in touch and will always be appreciative of all that this wonderful organization has given me.
This is not good-bye but a heart-felt THANK YOU!