As winter break approaches, University High School seniors are currently in the process of finishing their college applications. This year, teachers and students have cited increasing issues, as well as benefits, of the joint usage of the Common Application and Naviance program.
In 2011, the University High School (UHS) counseling department first began utilizing and providing student access to Naviance software along with Woodbridge, Irvine and Northwood high schools. Through the recommendation of Woodbridge High School counselor Ms. Figge, many Irvine high schools and middle school counseling departments have learned about and considered implementing Naviance services for student use. Through districtwide voting, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) decided to approve three years worth of funding for the Naviance program for usage at all Irvine middle and high schools.
Founded in 2002 by Stephen M. Smith and Shaun Fanning in Washington, D.C., Naviance is a software program that partners with high schools and K-12 institutions to provide students with college planning and career assessment tools. Students can individually access Naviance to track their academic progress throughout high school and discuss this progress with teachers and parents, who also have access to Naviance as well as post-secondary education plans. Students can also use Naviance to request teacher recommendations for college applications and view the progress of their respective teachers’ submission processes. According to The Business Journals, Naviance has been implemented in nearly 5,500 schools in 84 countries.
At first, UHS counseling department encouraged students use the Common Application to apply for colleges and request teacher recommendations. Naviance was initially welcomed by many of the schools’ counseling departments because its variety of different tools accessible within one platform, such as a resume maker, college search system on basis of individual student profiles and the ability to send college applications to all colleges that work with Common App. In addition, Naviance uses data modeling, such as its college matching services, to help students identify colleges that match them academically and socially. Ms. Shannon Lenert (Math Dept.) said, “The system itself is fairly easy to use. I don’t see much difference between that and the Common App that we used to use. It would be nice to see improvements on Naviance’s sending process, especially if there was a ‘send all’ button for the documents requested by students, instead of having to send them one by one to each college.”
Despite its advantages, Naviance does have its inconveniences. The delay and glitches that occur when sending college applications or recommendations are what most students, teachers and counselors are struggling with. Ms. Ann Jacobson (Counseling Dept.) said, “Naviance has many things on one platform. There are many parts to it, like the Course Selection, but some are really complicated. We only decided to open some of them to the students. Yet, it has a lot of glitches that need to be fixed. However, there was a lot of glitches to Common App too this year, and that didn’t help the situation.” Instead, she believed that it would be a better idea to consider Naviance for smaller schools since it would be easier to operate and reach out to students.
Many UHS teachers have had different experiences adjusting to the teacher recommendation services of Naviance. When asked about her experiences with sending recommendations through Naviance, Ms. Therese Sorey (English Dept.) said, “Atrociously awful. It is beyond clumsy to downright frustrating. It has made me cry.” Instead, Ms. Sorey suggests that UHS should return to its usage of the Common App. Mrs. Sorey said, “The Common App is clean, clear, simple, direct. There’s no extraneous info on it to make using the site cumbersome.”
The debate surrounding whether the district should keep funding this system or revert back to the old one is especially important now since this academic year is the third (of three) years that IPSF has committed to pay for access to Naviance. Only time will tell if IPSF decides to renew funding on this controversial service.
By NIUSHA MALEKI