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The Kids Are Alright…

White flowers bloom on a tree in front of the Bell Tower

By Kita Adams

For the first time, I was able to take my students at Franklinton High School on a campus tour field trip. Initially, I was nervous that the students were only on the trip to get out of class… and honestly, that was most likely 85% of the reason. I couldn’t blame them either. As the campus tour progressed, I found that, yes, the students did come on the trip to get out of class, but for a reason that I didn’t see when they were turning in permission slips. The campus tour to East Carolina University, and my role as a College Advisor, has helped them navigate making decisions that’ll make a huge impact on their lives in the future. From the questions they were asking to concerns they addressed during the campus tour, I’ve come to truly know the kids are going to be alright.

A person holding a sign that reads "I advise because everyone deserves someone in their corner"

As a first-year advisor at Franklinton High School coming in after two years of an amazing, more experienced adviser, I was struck with a bout of imposter syndrome, believing I wasn’t ready to serve the students. I felt I wasn’t ready to continue the college-going culture that the previous adviser sustained, especially sustaining the strength of that culture through a pandemic! My insecurities in the start of my position as an adviser hindered me from realizing the full potential of the students I was serving and how independent they are when it comes to the resources they chose to seek out. For example, I felt I had to “do the most” when it came to what events I programmed or made sure to overload my schedule with those events to compensate for what I believed students would gravitate towards. When I experienced my first episode of burnout, I knew I had to change it up – figure out what the students needed versus what I thought they did. I did this 1) to save time, but also 2) to let my students have some agency over what they needed from me. That’s how the campus tour to ECU came about.

I didn’t randomly choose to take the students to East Carolina University. I made sure to garner student input on the specific campuses they wanted to see based off of their majors of interest and/or the type of schools they planned to attend. Two of the seniors on that trip got accepted into ECU, but never got the chance to tour. Four of the students on that trip heard that the university was well-known for their Nursing program and made sure to ask questions pertaining to that program of study. Because of that input, I knew the students wanted to get out of class, sure, but it was to plan their futures, to take control of their decisions they will soon have to make. Because I am asking the students what they need from me, I am planning and coordinating a College & Career Expo with specific careers that I’ve learned the students are interested in pursuing. I am meeting more frequently with families as students are including them in their decisions, and family situations have a huge impact on the decisions they are making. My role has become easier and I feel I am working more efficiently because of the agency I’ve allowed them to obtain where they may have a hard time obtaining in their classrooms.

The kids are alright, and the kids are going to be alright. My role is to advise. That’s it. It is not to dictate, it is not to save. My role as a college advisor is to make sure that I am steering them in the right direction and I will use what they already know about themselves to do that, even if it means that they are able to miss a day of class instruction to attend a college campus tour field trip. I am excited to be taking some more students to North Carolina A&T University in the next coming weeks.