The Evolution of University-School Interactions: Insights from the College Access Program

-A Counsellor Perspective by Ambikaa Kaul, College Access Program, Delhi Public School Society

In recent years, the traditional pathways of education have seen a significant transformation, particularly in the realm of career and college counselling. The introduction of structured career guidance within schools marks a significant shift from old-school pedagogy to a more contemporary, student-focused approach. This change is especially pertinent in India, where the student population exceeds 265 million. The National Education Policy (NEP) recognises the importance of such counselling as an essential component of the educational ecosystem.

Pioneering Change Through the College Access Program

The outcomes were phenomenal—we observed a surge in college applications, a boost in academic achievements, and an overall enhancement in college readiness among a diverse group of students.

Deepening University-School Partnerships

Looking forward, I envision a deeper, more fruitful collaboration between universities and school counsellors. This relationship is characterised by mutual benefits: schools aim to elevate their students’ chances of finding the right academic and career paths, while universities are eager to attract well-prepared, culturally diverse candidates.

University Perspective:

Universities see significant value in engaging directly with schools. Our findings at Boost Education highlighted that students who benefited from comprehensive counselling—including direct interactions with university representatives—tended to apply to a wider array of institutions, about 1.7 times more than those who did not. These students also considered higher education in up to two additional countries, underscoring the powerful impact of direct access to university resources.

School Counselor Perspective:

From the standpoint of school counsellors, universities are pivotal in supporting discussions with parents and easing concerns about overseas education, including visa acquisition and post-graduation opportunities. Universities also provide essential resources for college readiness, facilitate campus visits, and offer professional development opportunities for counsellors, which might include training in admission processes or specific career pathways.

Recent Trends and the Role of Technology

In the past six months alone, I have witnessed a spike in direct engagements between universities and schools. This includes innovative approaches like country-centric WhatsApp groups for free information exchange and collective initiatives such as coordinated university fairs. These fairs help manage travel schedules for university representatives and increase their reach within specific cities.

As we move forward, I believe the trajectory of university-school interactions will continue to evolve, greatly propelled by technological advancements and a foundational trust between the two entities.

A Call to Action for University Representatives

In conclusion, I urge my colleagues from various universities to focus on creating balanced, solution-centred relationships with schools. It is crucial not to overwhelm or oversell but to foster informed decision-making that helps diverse learners find their ideal academic institutions.

The ongoing evolution in the interactions between universities and schools through initiatives like the College Access programme is not just promising but essential for meeting the contemporary needs of students and educational institutions alike.

Ambika Kaul is a distinguished career counsellor and educator with over 23 years of global experience, having worked in over 25 countries with companies like GE Capital, American Express, and AXA. As a serial entrepreneur passionate about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, she combines her expertise in digital strategy consulting and college counselling to make significant educational advancements. Ambikaa currently leads the College Access Program supporting over 100,000 learners annually, and is on a mission to provide college access to over a million students, shaping them into purpose-driven citizens through her innovative approaches to counselling and capacity building.
Connect with Ambika