After presenting at several conferences this week, I am finally sitting in the Orlando Airport waiting on my plane to go back home.  As I am sitting here, I wanted to take some time to write about a great idea that was shared by one of my counseling colleagues a few weeks ago.

First, some backstory…

Since I work with the virtual school in our district, I frequently meet with students who are taking online classes at their home school.  After finishing up my student visit, I decided to make a quick trip into the counseling office to check in with my colleagues before I left the building.  Making the last round, I stopped in to say hello to the counselor that I work out with each week just to let her know that I would see her later in the week (by the way, this woman is a beast!). Conversing about our workout, I looked up and noticed a large whiteboard with information that resembled a student’s transcript.  Curious, I shifted the conversation to the whiteboard and asked her to tell me more about it.  Oh, this activity is for my students who think they are in better shape than they really are…I had to know more!!  She continued to tell me that the activity allowed the counselor and student  to have a conversation about the “numbers”, and what those numbers really mean. She went on to explain that she would give each student a print out of his or her transcript along with a dry erase marker to write out the courses and grades on the board. From the information on the whiteboard, the students would identify classes they needed to retake, learn how to calculate their overall GPA, and identify missing credits needed for graduation.  From the visual, students discuss if they believe the transcript reflects their true potential; if the current GPA meets the criteria for the college they wish to attend; and if they ultimately will meet NCAA eligibility (for athletes).  My colleague expressed that this activity has been a real eye-opener for her students and that many have responded positively to the activity.  She believes this is the first time that the reality has set in for most of them…especially students whose college goals do not necessarily relate to their high school resume.

After her thorough description, I asked her if I could share this activity with other school counselors and she said YES!! So, here is how you could incorporate this idea with your students.

 Transcript Reflection Activity

Step 1:  Consider purchasing or locating a whiteboard and a pack of colored dry erase markers.  Make sure the whiteboard is large enough to accommodate a student’s transcript information.  My suggestion is to get a white board that is about 4 ft. in length and 2 1/2 in width.

Step 2: Hang the board in an area of your office where the student can comfortably sit and transcribe the transcript.
Step 3: Give your students instructions of how to input the information on the board.  For instance, courses that they earned credit can be black, failed courses can be red, etc.

Step 4: Give them time…don’t rush as students often process while they are writing.

Step 5:  If the student wishes to pursue college, give him or her a list of colleges with admission requirements (make sure the list includes GPA requirements). You can do the same with NCAA requirements as well.

Step 6: Create discussion questions that you would like the student to answer about his or her transcript.  This is a great reflection activity…

Here are some potential questions:

Looking at your transcript, do you feel that your coursework will get you into your target school. If not, which schools are you eligible for acceptance currently?

To reach your target school, what grades will you need to earn to reach that goal?  (This is where you will need to teach students how to calculate future grade calculations).

How does your high school transcript look to a college or athletic recruiter? Are you satisfied with your progress?  If not, what can you do differently starting today?

What support will you need to reach this goal?

Step 7: Have the student create goals of how he/she would like to improve his/her GPA.

This activity really can be helpful for students who are struggling or seem to need help understanding the meaning of a high school transcript. I would like to thank my colleague for her willingness to share her idea!  Also, feel free to share any ideas you may have when working with students!!

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