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How To Use Naviance As A College Search Tool

Jan Combs

Written by Jan Combson February 18th, 2016

I came to College Coach with nearly 30 years of related professional experiences. As a director of financial aid at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I determined student financial aid eligibility, oversaw a number of scholarship and fellowship programs, and worked closely with students to guide them through the financial aid application process and the many steps to enrollment. As an account executive at two national lenders, I worked closely with students and advised them on financial literacy related best practices as well as student loan repayment options and strategies. More recently as a high school guidance counselor, I assisted a diverse group of students with their college admission, financial aid, and scholarship applications. Supporting students and their families through each of those overwhelming processes was very rewarding. I was able to offer valuable assistance to students throughout the entire process, as well as guide them when making their final decisions as to where to attend college and how they would cover the college bill. Currently, I serve as a seminar facilitator for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), assisting families with both the college admissions process as well as the college financing process.
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How To Use Naviance As A College Search Tool: Part 1

As a parent of a high school junior, I am happily supporting my son during his college admissions process, standing ready to be his co-pilot during this very exciting journey. Certainly, there is no shortage of college planning resources available to families, however, I want to highlight Naviance as comprehensive college and career planning software used by many public and private high schools. Naviance helps students plan for their futures by connecting their academic interests and achievements to college and career options.  This program really serves as a “one stop shop,” allowing students to identify their potential college options based on established criteria. Naviance also serves as a robust college application management system, helping families to streamline an often overwhelming process. Perhaps most importantly, Naviance has proven to be extremely beneficial to my son thus far during this process – and has proven to be a college search tool we can use together. Naviance works with high schools to provide students with college planning and career assessment tools. The software is comprised of a series of related modules entitled “Colleges,” “Careers,” “About Me,” and “My Planner.” Within those selected modules, there are myriad tools and resources to support students, both from a self-discovery perspective as well as from a career and college exploration purpose. In this post, we will cover the College Module, covering the remaining modules later. Generate a College List

One of the most useful features of Naviance is the College module, which allows students to find schools that match their college preferences from a remarkable database of over 4,000 colleges. In the “SuperMatch” College Search link, students can develop their search parameters, including criteria important to them, such as size and geographic location of the college, major, student makeup, selectivity, and activities and programs offered on campus. Students can decide with their parents which qualities they may want in a college, and Naviance then generates a list of schools tailored specifically to their wants and needs in a college. The more criteria that a student specifies, the more tailored the college list Naviance will produce. Students can modify their parameters as many times as they want, so play around and see what types of lists you get based on different parameters!

After the list is generated, Naviance also rank orders the colleges on the student’s list based on how closely the college fits the student’s criteria. This feature gives students a keen sense of their best matches. Begin Your Research After developing their base list, students should then move into research mode. Parents and students can discover additional information about the college by navigating to a school of interest, clicking on the school name, and landing on information and statistics specific to the college. Basic information includes data on admissions, financial aid, student life, tuition, school size, majors, and student retention rates. As the student decides which schools he or she is interested in, they can be added to the “Colleges I’m Thinking about List.” Naviance will automatically insert available information about admissions processes, including corresponding application deadlines and the application portal used by the college. I’ve found this to be one of the best organizational features of Naviance. Once the full list of colleges is developed, students can also contact colleges to request more information, email them with questions, or link to the college’s website. Narrow It Down Of course, getting to that final list can be difficult. While Naviance has already helped you narrow down from 4,000 schools to the colleges and universities that best meet your student’s search parameters, it is important to help your child narrow down their college list to an appropriate number. College Coachrecommends applying to between seven and ten schools. And Naviance can even help you with this pruning process! The program also allows you to compare schools side-by-side by selecting the “Pin It” function on several schools. Using this function, the specific facts of many schools can be compared in an easy-to-see format. After reviewing, students can then adjust their college list accordingly. Another neat feature in the college module is the Naviance “Scattergram.” This is a scatter plot showing data from previous students from your student’s high school who were accepted, denied, and wait-listed by a specific college. This information is relayed on a Cartesian graph with the X- and Y-axes showing SAT and GPA information for a particular student. Students should develop their college list with an eye towards including colleges of varying selectivity levels; again, College Coach recommends at least two clear “no problem” schools and three “just right” schools to go along with a couple of “challenging” schools. Thus the Scattergram is an important resource to that end. In the next post, we’ll go over Naviance’s career, about me, planner modules – be sure to check back in! Relevant Episodes of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation: College Application Prep 101


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