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Figuring out how best to connect with students has been one of my more difficult challenges while serving as an AdviseMI adviser. Because of the pandemic, most communication is now virtual, which seems to overwhelm students since they receive information from multiple sources and platforms on a daily basis. It can be difficult for me to find the right time and method to communicate with them. Another challenge has been gaining student interest in postsecondary planning. Many students have an idea of what schools they want to apply to, but have yet to do so. This might be due to the fact that students are focusing on the upcoming SAT, along with continued adjustments to the school year. It seems they are so overwhelmed in these areas that they are putting off college planning.

These obstacles have made for a tough start to the school year. At times, I worry I am not doing enough as their adviser and can’t seem to find the best method to better empower students in their postsecondary planning. Other times I feel like I’m requesting too much and its overwhelming students further. I am constantly seeking the right balance to serve students efficiently and be a better resource for them.

Most students have adjusted to intense online work and have developed new skills to adjust. Some others have not. Additionally, some students have expressed their struggles to imagine what their postsecondary plans might look like. They are unsure of how to plan for college when financial aid and college operations are up in the air for next year. They have discussed costs, taking a year off, and whether or not to attend community college or a four-year university if classes continue to be virtual. Overall, seniors are flustered and thinking the next year seems impossible. They are trying to determine the best fit for their future and whether that path will be available next fall.

As an adviser, my job is to help students overcome these challenges. I’m working closely with teachers, staff, and others in my network at the postsecondary level. Teachers are one of my greatest assets and give great support and advice on how to better reach students in and out of the classroom. College representatives have worked diligently to provide answers and resources we can share. Principals and support staff have also offered their assistance as needed. I have directly asked students how I can better serve them on a day-to-day basis. Many are quick to express a preference for the type of communication that works best, along with requesting the resources they need for postsecondary planning. Another source of support has been from my fellow AdviseMI advisers, who have come together so we can collectively navigate the school year. This collaboration and help from others will help us achieve success throughout the rest of the year and I will continue to be available to my students so they can end the year on a positive note.