Flipped Classroom – Graduates Tell Seniors about College
One of the frustrations of teaching advanced classes, like the IB Math classes I teach, is the tendency for students to focus too much on GPA, especially as it applies to college applications. Students frequently value GPA over learning, which leads to a constant battle over a point or two on every test.
I thought that I could deal with this frustration by repeatedly telling seniors that GPA isn’t as important as they think it is. There are other elements of their college applications that weigh equally or more than their GPA.
There are two problems: (1) I went to college in Canada, and (2) I went to college decades ago. Both of these facts made me less credible as a college advisor in their eyes.
So I decided to try something different: A month before school started this year, I wrote a post on Facebook, specifically directed to any of my former IB seniors who have been in college for at least a year. I asked if any of them were available to visit with my class and give my students a better and clearer overview of the college application experience and college life once they attend classes.
Within hours, IB alumni were responding and I had a full schedule of guest speakers ready to share their experiences.
Each period of each day, for the first five days, one or two IB graduates answered questions from the seniors. The questions were very specific and well thought out, and the answers were wise and personal at the same time. The graduates clearly enjoyed the opportunity to share what they knew, and the seniors had a sense of reassurance that the process, though grueling, would get them into the right college.
(pictured above – Jeanna, Sarah, Laura and Ryan, Pranav, Sanjani, Ashley, Christina, Mio, Akshaya, Archie, Shreya, Michelle)
Was it all worth it? Did the seniors appreciate the effort? I allowed them to give feedback through a Google Forms survey. Here are the results of a couple of questions:
If 98.1% of the seniors (52 out of the 53) felt the same or better about college, I’d say that this was a success!!
The one thing I need to remember next year is to have any potential on-campus visitors complete a background check, as per district regulations. Also, it would probably be a good idea for the seniors to think of their questions in advance, to avoid big gaps of silence in the conversation. I think next time I will also have students document for themselves any new information they hear in the conversation that will affect their decision, and tell them to keep this documentation in a place where they can access it as they progress through the college application process.
I’m very pleased with how this turned out. Even though the graduates were admittedly nervous, they were honest and professional, as were the seniors. The discussion was meaningful and educational. And I think everyone, myself included, learned a lot during this first week.
Thank you to all of the graduates who volunteered their time to make this such a big success!