College applications were a daunting and time-consuming task for students and administrators alike in years past, said Riverhead guidance director Charles Gassar.
Students pored over different sources to compare schools, as a handful of guidance counselors sent out packets of documents to colleges across the country, he said.
While the decisions for students aren’t any easier, the process of sending and planning for applications is.
That’s thanks to a new online college planning tool that was expanded this school year, he said during a presentation at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, explaining the new program to officials.
“It keeps [the process] organized and formalized,” Mr. Gassar said.
The online tools, called “Naviance,” allow students to track their own achievements, find and compare prospective colleges, submit applications, request letters of recommendation and more, he said.
The tool was tested on a handful of seniors last school year, but was used with the high school’s entire 335 senior class this year, with the 11th grade getting an introduction to the program this year.
In the spring, 10th graders will learn about how to set up a Naviance account; by next spring, freshman will have an account as well, Mr. Gassar said.
“We want them to build that resume, we want to be a continuing process, not something they put together their senior year because the guidance counselor said they should do it,” he said. “We want them to start thinking about what they’ve done, what they’ve achieved, and what goals they can set.”
The online system is accessible out-of-school and lets students search from thousands of colleges based on size, tuition rates, majors, and other factors.
Students can also keep track of which colleges they’d like to apply to, information the guidance department then uses to make sure students are meeting admission deadlines, Mr. Gassar said.
Naviance also lets students browse for scholarship opportunities ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, Mr. Gassar said.
We now have one-stop shopping for scholarships,” he said, noting that even smaller scholarships can add up for students.
Best of all, Mr. Gassar said, the program is cost-efficient; it costs the district $1 per student to operate Naviance.
The high school guidance department plans to hold meetings with parents and students in the spring to introduce them to the online system.