This post is part of a series about helping students with LBLD experience academic success.
by Suzanne Crossman and Justin Smith
Deadlines! Requirements! Paperwork! Decisions! Every high school senior faces the daunting task of navigating the post secondary planning process. What do I want to do? Which tests should I take? Where do I want to go? When is the deadline? For the student who struggles with executive function skills, these tasks can be particularly challenging. This process impacts all facets of executive functioning. Recognizing the many and varied demands that post secondary planning places on students is critical for teachers and families seeking to support these students.
Initiation: Getting started in the post secondary process can be overwhelming. Many students cope through avoidance while others become highly focused on the process to the exclusion of other areas of their life. For many students, this is the first real “adult” decision they will make.
Emotional Control: So many emotions must be managed through the process that students will often struggle. While many might find the opportunity to leave high school and begin their adult life exciting and adventurous, students who have faced academic struggles in high school often find the transition overwhelming. They must confront the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, and the fear of making the wrong decision. Students are leaving family, friends and a comfortable environment for a new place with new expectations. Emotional challenges can be compounded as well meaning family and friends ask questions and offer suggestions.
Shift: The process does not always go as planned! Students think about their post secondary goals throughout high school. As they grow, learning more about themselves and their academic skills, they often need to adjust their visions for the future.
Planning: Post secondary planning is a long term project that begins with researching and narrowing options, completing applications, reviewing responses and making a final decision. Each school or program has different requirements, due dates and methods of communication.
Material Organization: Times have changed, and much of the post secondary planning process is completed online. Students are faced with volumes of emails and communications with schools. These messages are sent to students, but rarely go to parents. If they are not careful, a senior might miss important messages.
Working Memory: There are many tasks that must be completed during the post secondary planning process. It can be hard to remember to ask teachers for recommendations, send scores to colleges, return calls, schedule visits, and so much more.
Self Monitoring; As students move through their senior year, they must gain a clear understanding of how they can be more effective as a learner. Students should have a clear idea of the level and types of support and accommodations they will need in post secondary education and how to access this support once they step foot on campus.
Some strategies that help:
As daunting as the process may seem, it is can also be rewarding for students as they learn more about themselves and feel empowered as they plan for the future. Given the support and encouragement they need, students will grow through the journey and feel empowered for the next step in their education. Enjoy this time with students: support them during the disappointments and celebrate their successes!
Suzanne J. Crossman is the director of transition and guidance at Landmark High School. In this role, Suzanne works closely with students and families as they begin to explore and plan the next steps in their education after high school graduation. She has been active in developing the Landmark School transition curriculum, an integrated approach to supporting students as they plan for the future. Suzanne has served many roles at Landmark in the last 35 years. Prior to her current role, she was the director of the preparatory program. She has also served as study skills department head and an academic advisor.
Justin Smith is a school counselor and world history teacher at Landmark High School. He has his professional license in Special Education and has been with Landmark for the past decade. Through his multiple roles, Justin gets to work closely with students, building a rapport that allows him to guide students toward what they want to do after high school. Additionally, having been a college student with an LBLD, he has a unique insight into navigating the world of college and shares his experiences with his students.
Understanding Learning Profiles
Rights and Responsibilities
Check out the full list of recommended resources from the Landmark Office of Transition and Guidance.View Resources