Written by Holly Perry, College Adviser for South Creek High in Martin County
Serving as a College Adviser the past few months has been one of the most rewarding, yet challenging roles that I have experienced.
Entering a new school and facing the pressures of the community attitudes towards success and higher education was not as easy as I had anticipated. Standing firm and aiming to create an environment where my students could thrive was my main goal. Learning the culture of my school was first on my agenda. Building strong connections with essential members of my school was key to my success. Some of the interactions with both students and staff weren’t always what I had expected. I didn’t always get it right and I learned that this was perfectly fine. Facing the pressures of finding options for my students who needed a little help or who were not directly four-year eligible was one of the most difficult parts of my role; however, I strived to build strong foundation relationships with these students and helped them create a plan for the long term, rather than the here-and-now.
In my role, I have come to learn that data is a huge part of what I do. Supplemental to the daily, one-on-one interactions I have with students, the data helps me learn how to better serve my students. Through data trends and content reflected in the data I gather, I can have intentional conversations with my program to brainstorm ideas that will help me be able to aid my students the best way possible, from one-on-one FAFSA assistance to SAT/ACT prep meetings.
Through this journey, I have learned the successes of my students is not my own. They are the ones who are completing the applications, sharing their stories, and trying their best to share who they are to these colleges and universities. With a little guidance and a whole lot of encouragement, my students have been able to see college is a possibility for them and they can be successful. The countless hours spent assisting with applications, giving pep talks, and helping with FAFSAs truly reminds me that working to create access to higher education is something that cannot be done alone. With the support of the community members, school staff, and parents/guardians, these students are able to work hard to achieve their dreams and my role in this process is only one piece to the puzzle.