College Access Counseling Certificate

The College Access Counseling Certificate Program is a 40-hour minimum (non-credit, Continued Professional Education - CPE) online certificate program that fulfills the professional needs of secondary college access counselors.

This online program has been specifically designed to increase the participants' knowledge and improve their capacity to assist students in navigating the pathway to college. Throughout the course of study, candidates are encouraged to explore and reflect on previous experiences and bridge new understandings from course offerings into future practice.

The plan of study consists of a minimum of 40 CPE hours of college access counseling coursework focused on fundamental topics in college counseling. These courses allow educators to further develop their knowledge of college access counseling, learn new strategies for student engagement and generally broaden their counseling skills and knowledge. The plan of study culminates with a capstone experience. The capstone, in conjunction with other course offerings, aims to deepen the knowledge and practice of educators in a particular area and to prepare them to serve as educational leaders on their campuses. The capstone course is a candidate’s demonstration of particular expertise.

Who should enroll?

  • Current college access counselors
  • Aspiring college access counselors
  • Professionals working with students in navigating the pathway to college
  • Parents

This certificate is recommended for educators with less than three years of college access counseling experience. Courses are intended to educate participants about the basics of the college admissions/advising process. 

The program consists of a minimum of 32 CPE hours earned across a minimum of four content courses and the successful completion (full CPE credit) of the capstone course. Students must successfully complete each content course and the capstone project in order to earn the certificate.

Note: Successful completion is defined by earning full CPE credit for each course. The courses and activities have been carefully constructed to build towards the capstone portfolio, so it is imperative that they be completed in full. Please note that coursework is not accepted beyond the due dates specified within each content course.

College Match
This online course focuses on best practices for helping students identify, consider and enroll in “match” colleges. The course provides counselors with an understanding of college match and the dangers of undermatch. Additionally, it guides college access counselors through a “match approach” to the application process including developing strong college lists. A match approach to the college search process ensures that students are more aware of and likely to seriously consider or choose institutions that are a good “fit” based on their academic profiles, career interests, financial considerations, and personal and social needs. 8 CPE hours

Financing College: Navigating the Pathways
This online course covers the essentials of navigating basic financial aid applications, including the FAFSA and CSS Profile; as well as, pre-planning tools such as net price calculators and FAFSA4caster. The course will also equip college access counselors with an understanding of how to evaluate and interpret post-application financial aid award packages. This foundational knowledge will provide the resources necessary to guide students and families in understanding college affordability, reducing college cost, and personal financial literacy to maintain affordability. 10 CPE hours

Fundamentals of College Counseling
Effective college counseling requires fundamental and advanced counseling skills, knowledge of adolescent cognitive development, an understanding of the higher education landscape and familiarity with the undergraduate admissions process and financial aid. This course provides a holistic, core curriculum to teach the critical skills of effective college counseling. Topics include: exploring colleges, financial aid and scholarships, and the admissions process. 8 CPE hours

The Role of the College Access Counselor
This course explores methods and strategies for working with students and their families to guide them through the college search process. It also addresses creating a college list, explaining admissibility and working with campus staff and college admissions counselors. 8 CPE hours

The Undergraduate Admissions Process
Navigating the undergraduate admissions process is often one of the most daunting aspects of preparing students to apply for college. Students, families, and counselors all often wonder “what are admissions committees looking for?” This course explains in detail the factors that go into the “holistic review” of highly selective colleges and universities in the United States. Topics include: transcript, curriculum, high school context, standardized test scores, essays, letters of recommendation, athletic recruits, performing artists and disciplinary infractions. 8 CPE hours

Understanding the Needs of Aspiring First Generation College Students
This course explores the social, emotional and cultural barriers aspiring first generation college students will face and must overcome in order to achieve success in their transition from high school to college. 10 CPE hours

Letters of Recommendation
This course offers educators knowledge on how to best advise students, so that they can secure the most effective letters of recommendation. It also provides tips and strategies to assist educators in writing effective letters of recommendation for their students. 6 CPE hours

College Access Counseling Capstone
The capstone is a digital portfolio that contains elements from each course along with additional reflective and strategic elements. The purpose of the digital portfolio is to provide students with the opportunity to integrate their coursework into their counseling practices. The capstone is designed to demonstrate a student’s professional learning and contains assignments from courses, a three-year strategic plan for creating a college bound campus, and representative personal and professional work. The capstone course is six weeks long and is led by a capstone advisor. Prerequisite: Students must have completed a minimum of four online college access counseling content courses and earned a minimum 32 CPE hours prior to enrolling in the capstone course. 

Students intending to pursue the College Access Counseling Certificate are asked to submit a “Declaration of Intent.” The declaration of intent, which includes a proposed course plan of study, assists us in planning for capstone advisors.

Declaration of Intent