Naviance. If you're a high school senior, or about to be one, Naviance has as surely become a part of your vernacular (good SAT word :-) as the Common App.

Heralded -- by those who market it -- as the next best thing to sliced bread, Naviance is said to offer a "road map to success," not only to college, but toward a lifelong career.

Of course, if someone offers you a road map, you darn well better know how to read it, where the closures and detours lie, and be privy to alternate routes, just in case!

Engaging both students and their parents, challenging (in more ways than ever intended) students, educators and administrators, and opening the lines of communication among all concerned, are but a few of this innovative tool's intended goals. "...a road map that clearly guides each step toward a student’s desired destination."

All right. We all saw those frightful Final Destination movies. Sometimes, that road map just doesn't get you where you want to go!

At its very best, Naviance is a most powerful tool, particularly in guiding students, parents and educators on the path to college. Utilized to its full potential, Naviance is a time-saver and a stress-reliever, gathering data, information, facts, figures, and everything from high school transcripts to those critical Guidance reports and letters of recommendation, and transmitting same to college admissions offices around the country.

High School Resume? Naviance. College Selection? Naviance. Scholarships to pay for college? Naviance.
At its very worst, Naviance can be interchangeable with nuisance, duplicating efforts of students and guidance counselors alike, requiring the entry of all kinds of data that, in the course of, say, applying to college, will be routinely entered elsewhere (i.e., on the Common App), and sending most, if not all of the assembled life history, absolutely nowhere. In other words, what was intended as a one-stop-shop time-saving, stress relieving program itself becomes a make-work, anxiety-inducing, yet-another-thing-to-do Frankenstein monster.

The reality of Naviance, at least for most school districts in the Northeast United States, is that the utility and usefulness as a college guidance tool (forget career path. After high school, you will never give Naviance a second thought) is marginal, at best. Yes, Guidance reports, transcripts and letters of recommendation may (emphasis on may) be compiled on and transmitted through Naviance, but the bulk of the work that must be done by college-bound seniors -- including college matching and the all-important scholarship searches -- has to be undertaken and completed elsewhere.

That said, swear by it or swear at it, much like the SAT and ACT, Naviance has become -- and is likely to gain a greater foothold and wider application -- a right of passage through the college application and admissions process.

If your high school doesn't use it, consider yourself fortunate, and don't think twice. There's plenty of other minutia to keep you occupied during the crazy, manic-filled days and sleepless, fitful nights known as the college application season. And every bit of information found on or through Naviance can be found, if but with the proper guidance and counseling, somewhere else.

If, however, Naviance is in the mix (meaning, your school district got sold a bill of goods), by all means, learn your way around, and use it, if not to the system's full capability, then certainly, to your own best advantage.

Naviance Family Connection (almost every high school has a portal) should become as familiar to you (not quite a friend, but don't make it your enemy) as the interface of the Common App, College Board and FAFSA.

Get your High School Code and Log In to Naviance, to begin your journey. [Water bottles and Dramamine sold separately!] Get the lay of the land. Avail yourself -- without neglecting the myriad and sundry chores that accompany the college application and admissions process -- of the resources to be found there.

By all means, meet with your Guidance Counselor -- as well as with your independent college consultant, should you have one (who wouldn't? ;-) -- to discuss, among other intricacies, obstacles, roadblocks and nuances, the ins and outs of Naviance.

Take a Naviance tutorial (most high schools offer Naviance instruction on their websites). Sign up for a Naviance webinar. Or simply watch a YouTube video.

When all else fails -- or you need a break from the insanity that surrounds you -- call upon Captain Naviance!

The road to success is before you. Whether or not it is paved is another question. Just don't get caught up in the endless roundabout (traffic circle?) that Naviance, and the entire college application process, could lead you into.

Relax behind that wheel. Stay vigilant. Watch for oncoming cars -- or ACT scores. And you will successfully navigate the road to college admissions, Naviance, and a host of AP exams, notwithstanding!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
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