Goodbyes and Continued Work

Yesterday was my last day at Northland High School, but not by my choice. I have come down with the flu and have spent the past day and a half in bed sleeping and coughing.

I’ll miss working at Northland. Although the workshops were not as well attended as I and the guidance counselor had hoped, it still feels successful. The guidance counselor hoped I or another college student would do a similar program again next winter. We had ended up not doing a career/college access fair because it was simpler to just send students to the ones an hour away near walker and grand rapids. The students did receive a lot more info on the college access resources the school did offer though during workshops and classroom visits, so that was one good result of the program. The timing had been the hardest to figure out because it kept conflicting with highly-attended classes: so hopefully next winter the scheduling won’t be so bad or the workshops could be made mandatory so that students don’t have to choose between class and the program. I also sent out a survey to the students to find out what the strengths and problems of the program were, so that it can be improved next time.

I met with Brody and Ben yesterday, and finally I have a picture of these camera-shy high schoolers:



In the workshop, we went over how to build resumes to discover skills and personality traits that they might not realize that they have. They were really engaged and we had a quite a bit of fun creating resumes for hypothetical situations and pretend people. We talked about how everyone has different skills and different circumstances, and we discussed the extremes that some people would go to for school. After I explained that resumes could actually be used to apply to scholarships and not just jobs, they started to see how this would help them in college. Then, they were convinced that they didn’t have any skills or achievements to put on their resume, but, after some reflection exercises, they found their strengths: Marine-life enthusiast, Varsity Football Player (every year during high school), etc. They were still asking questions when the bell-rung.

Before I left, they wanted some help with test-prep because they run out of time or get discouraged when they don’t know how to do a problem. I gave them some materials and advice on those sorts of problems, and we’ll be emailing to find out how that goes. I need to email a senior I saw the other day about gap years and community service programs since he hasn’t applied to college and doesn’t know what to do. It’s nice that, even though the program is over, the students still are asking me questions. I’m going to miss doing workshops with them, but I know we’ll keep in touch. It’s almost like I’m not saying goodbye. More like, “hello, how are you doing?”


Photos of random things around the high school:



in the school office in order to encourage studentsImage

one of the college and employment fairs the school will take the students toImage


Bilingual Sign for the girls’ bathroomImagePreparing for one of the workshops and letting students browse some college access books


Students! Time Management and Gap Years

(Sorry about the late post. I’ve been pretty busy for the past few days.)

I went up to Northland on Thursday, and three or four students came to ask me questions throughout the day. Two of them asked their teacher to let them out of class, so that they could talk to me for an hour. These two were not terribly sure if they wanted to go to college. One of them was pretty set on a technical college because he enjoyed working on physical projects and there are several opportunities in this area for technical work. The other student was a senior and had not applied to college. He told me that he did not know if college would be worth the effort since he did not know what he wanted to do. He knew he could get some jobs in the area without going to college, but he did not know if that was what he wanted. I told him about gap years and how there were community service programs and scholarship/grant opportunities for other students like him. I told both of them that they did not have to go to college straight out of high school and that it was okay to not know exactly what they wanted to do.

They shared a lot with me. I learned a lot about where the animosity towards the Native American students came from for them. They felt like the Native American students were getting more opportunities than them because there was an office of “Indian Education” in the school and they felt like the school valued the Native American students more than them. It was hard to hear them talk about this or respond to their feelings without coming across as judging them, but I think the students are starting to trust me. We switched the conversation to what sort of opportunities they have, and I hope they’re beginning to see how everyone has different options and how we often only see the good things other people have and not everything they’ve been through. I’m not sure they really got it, but I gave them some ideas about reasons to go to college and how to start thinking about their goals and priorities. They said they would come back to talk more.


The time management workshop went well too. The student from the other day came in and I got to see how he spent his day via pie charts and hourly schedules. He was really surprised about how little time is spent in class each day at college. We talked about testing too since he had just taken an MCA (I think that’s what he said) and how important the ACT can be for getting scholarships and grants from colleges. I gave him a list of colleges with pretty good environmental studies and biology programs, and also talked to him about coming in and getting some test-prep time since the school doesn’t offer much as far as study skills for juniors and seniors. He was rather excited but also pretty stressed about the tests. I’m going to send them all emails later today with more info about gap years, colleges they might like, and test prep. I’m pretty excited.

Campus Visits Workshop: Low Attendance, but Encouragement


This is the entrance to the high school. I forgot my good camera, so I took this on my phone.


I had a long day up at the high school. Not many students peaked into speak with me about college, but I did a workshop about Campus Visits and how important it is to choose the right college. Due to bad-timing during the school day and it also being finals week: there was only one student there. However, he was really interested and told me about his reaction to BSU (Bemidji State University) and how he felt his only option left was UMD (University of Minnesota at Duluth). He described himself to me as a hardworking farm boy wanting to be a marine biologist because of his love of nature. I told him about some smaller colleges in Minnesota that had environmental studies programs and good student support services. Since those seemed to be his main concerns with UMD. He hadn’t heard of any of those colleges before, so he seemed pretty happy that he had more options than he had thought. I guess that’s all I can do: show students how many opportunities there are.


(Tomorrow I’m leading a workshop on time management in the afternoon. It’ll be at a later time which doesn’t conflict with as many classes, so I hope more students will attend.)