Transitioning from K-12 to Higher Education
I would like to find work in student support services at the college level but only have high school experience. Any ideas to help me get past the screening application process?
To make this type of transition, a good place to begin might be with volunteering to work with a college group in some manner--perhaps through a student organization or a religious-affiliated campus group. This would allow you an even closer view of current issues among college students, including non-traditional and international students, plus the chance to network with other support personnel. Carefully perusing a college's/university's website is a great way to view the student support resources available as well as the atmosphere of the campus. Doing so would clarify what area of student support services might be a good fit for you.
University of Nebraska Lincoln
There are people who make the move from working with high school students to working with college students. The key is in stressing the skills that you've gained that will make you unique - that will make you stand out positively from those who have only had experience with college students. One of the first things that comes to mind for me is that you will have a great developmental perspective. In other words, you'll be able to understand the groundwork that was laid for students before they entered college. Focus on prior (during high school) issues that might impact students' performance in and adjustment to college. The type of experience that you have had at the high school level (teaching, counseling, administration, or whatever it might be) can shape your responses to questions about your qualifications.
You might want to consider applying to community colleges, where the bond to secondary education is particularly strong. Many high school students take community college courses before they complete their secondary education. Your experience at the secondary level could be especially valuable there.
You may also want to talk with some student support services professionals at nearby colleges to learn what sorts of skills and background they seek in stand-out candidates for positions in their field.
Dr. Dawn Jones
Assistant Director - Special Projects
Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL