Student's View: What Does College and Career Readiness Mean?

(Views On Leadership) Permanent link

Student's View: What Does College and Career Readiness Mean?

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Graduation

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, recently released the winners of the 2018 Redefining Ready! Scholarship Contest, which asked high school seniors to create 30-second videos about why they’re ready for college, careers and life beyond grades or a test score. Some got creative like the national first place winner, Daniel Zhang, who made a rap about his high school accomplishments. Others vlogged, drew diagrams and even made presentations. All the videos can be found at http://www.aasa.org/2018-winners.aspx.

While I can’t say much about how high school prepared me for a career or life just yet, watching the videos made me think about my own high school experience and how it prepared me for my first year of college.

I did my fair share of exploring in high school. I joined my school’s swim team without knowing how to swim and drowned for the first three weeks of practice before getting the hang of it and committing to swim for two years. Then, I moved onto the color guard team, where I became captain as a senior.

I did some academic extracurriculars too. I was vice president of my national honor society chapter and president of my school’s math and English honor societies. I was captain of the speech team, placing at states my third year. I helped found a volunteer club called Cranes for a Cause, which got its name from our first project where we folded 1,000 cranes to decorate the office of a staff member who lost her husband. From that club and other miscellaneous organizations, I racked up over 400 hours of community service by graduation. I also wasn’t coming home until well after 10 pm some days because I was paranoid I wasn’t doing enough.

In retrospect, what prepared me the most for college were the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program. Like many other students, I did a lot of what I did just to build my resume. The IB Diploma was no exception. I wanted to take the hardest classes offered at my school and walk away with a tangible diploma to dangle in front of college admissions.

That was the wrong mentality to have. You don’t receive your IB Diploma until after graduation, so all I had for college admissions was the “IB Diploma Candidate” title on my transcript. What really prepared me for college was the immense amount of writing I did in the diploma program. I had to write an internalized assessment (IA) at least 10 pages long for every class, a 4,000 word Extended Essay and a 3,000 word Theory of Knowledge essay on top of the essays I was getting as regular classwork (at least an essay or two a week).

All that experience helped me write my scholarship essays, which helped me receive a full four-year scholarship through Questbridge. Writing in high school taught me the drafting, editing and time management skills I use today as an English major. It’s also a marketable skill I use when applying for my internships and part time jobs. As much as I understand the mentality to accumulate as many high school accolades as possible for college applications, you can only fit so much on a one-page resume. After getting into college, nobody cares if you played football in high school if you don’t have the maturity and diligence to handle the coursework as a prospective chemistry major.

I think that the ability to prioritize and hone a few key skills is essential to success in college. Whether a student joins 12 clubs in high school or two, those clubs must mean something beyond a talking point for college interviews.

Student's View: Why Student Leadership is Important in Education

(Views On Leadership) Permanent link

Student's View: Why Student Leadership is Important in Education

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Anyone can say that student leadership is important in education, but the harder part is explaining why.

First, to be blunt, leadership experience is essential for students to be competitive as they apply for jobs, college and scholarships. In almost every college interview I had, I was asked to tell a story depicting a time where I stepped up as leader. If the interviewer wanted to stump me, they’d ask me to describe a time where I “solved a problem” or “accomplished something I was proud of.” My job was to fluently deliver a story that was genuine, unique and most importantly, that showed off my skills as an innovator and leader. Those stories can’t be told without experience.

Past the surface though, student leadership is crucial in building confidence. So many students struggle to stand up for themselves when it matters most to them. In class, students listen to their teachers and the rubrics they receive. At home, they listen to their parents, their grandparents and their older siblings. If I didn’t push myself to run for office positions and speak out, I could have easily found myself doing nothing but listening to people throughout high school, whether on a sports team, in a club or in a group project.

I remember one of my best friends in high school constantly complaining about how our honor societies had become husks; applications ceased to be selective and members faked their service hours to earn cords to wear at graduation. As much as she was frustrated, she never ran for president. She never spoke to the society sponsors or the school administration because she thought she could never change it. She complained to me and not the rest of the student body because she thought that everyone else was content with the situation when the reality was, there were other students fed up with the system too. They were all just waiting for a leader to come along because it was easier to wait.

Academic Quiz Bowl Tournament

Students should not feel powerless in an institution that is supposed to empower them. However, when they feel they are trapped in situations where they have no say, it’s no wonder why they prefer to obey, get their good grades and get out. Not to say that there is no room for followers. Every leader needs strong followers to get anything done, but that strength comes from the confidence of knowing that you are a leader in your own way. You are not following to follow, but you are following because you believe in the leader’s ideas and you know you can step up and lead if you disagree.

I built my confidence as captain of the academic quiz bowl team. There is nothing more terrifying to me than being tested in front of people whose jobs are to score your mistakes. I had to do that, and I had to have the guts to tell other people they should try it too.

There are many other benefits to student leadership that I can’t talk about in a single blog post like teamwork, interpersonal skills, responsibility, organizational skills and communication. Bottom line is that I think every student needs experience in a meaningful leadership position where they have the resources ability to make the change they want to make. That’s just how I grow best as a student and become life-ready.

 

 

Student's View: First Week and First Impressions

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Student's View: First Week and First Impressions

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association   

AASA Internship As a rising sophomore at a liberal arts college pursuing an English B.A. and looking to teach after graduating, I embody the stereotype of the starving college snowflake destined to be paid less than my STEM counterparts for a job I find “fulfilling.”  

    As such, I rushed to apply for an internship with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, in hopes of receiving solid work experience related to my interests. AASA is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and it serves its members in different capacities from informational newsletters to advocacy.  

    This week was my first week here at my first internship ever. My internship is twofold; I work with two supervisors, Jay Goldman, editor of the School Administrator, and Gayane Minasyan, director of online technologies, on a variety of tasks from reviewing manuscript to sending alerts through the AASA mobile app. This week has been a learning experience above all else as I slowly adapt to the new environment.  

    On the magazine side, I’ve learned a lot about the process a manuscript goes through, from the author’s discovery of the AASA author guidelines to the final publication. I had the opportunity to read rejected and accepted manuscripts and the feedback each manuscript received from the staff. A decision can take months and some manuscripts take years to get published because of factors like lack of an appropriate theme.   

    I also had the chance to sit in on a monthly magazine meeting with the designer to select photography and digital artwork for the August edition. So much goes into the production of a single magazine. The article lineup has to make sense before any of the designing can take place. Then there has to be balance between artwork and photos. Some photos aren’t bright enough, high quality enough or have too much empty space. Some artwork is too expensive, needs to be commissioned or doesn’t fit stylistically. It’s a long process full of troubleshooting.  

    The online technologies side is just as complicated. With over 14 websites to manage, two national newsletters and a sizable social media presence, there’s constantly information to find and share. My first glimpse of AASA’s social media usage came from Deanna Atkins, digital content manager. I have personal accounts with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but I never realized what it entails to write for 24,000 plus professionals and keep them engaged on a daily basis. There are so many leadership initiatives, program events, hashtags and people to know when sending a two-sentence tweet. As someone who’s relatively young and supposed to be good with social media, this week has been a reality check.  

    I also enjoyed sitting in on the webinar “How to Work Effectively with School Boards and Search Firms to Advance Your Career” with four women leaders, Carmella S. Franco, search consultant (Calif.), Allison Schafer, legal counsel and director of policy, School Boards Association (N.C.), Susan Enfield, superintendent, Highline Public Schools (Wash.) and Patricia E. Neudecker, AASA past president, director of administrative leadership, assistant professor, Alverno College (Wis.). I never knew that only 25% of superintendent applications in North Carolina were women despite the fact women comprise the overwhelming majority of educators. It was enlightening to hear stories of how women accept substandard compensation without looking at previous contracts and advocating for themselves in negotiations.  

    Overall, it’s been an educational week full of new people, technology and office experiences. It can be overwhelming at times considering how new everything is, but I’m looking forward to spending the next two months of summer here.