Since AYA's first year, emphasis has been placed on providing college, career, and academic counseling to students in grades 9 - 12, with greatest emphasis placed and attention given to students in grades 11 & 12.
AYA has administered the PSAT to all students in grades 9 - 11 since 2004. Once the scores are received in December, they are reviewed and analyzed. A meeting is then held in January for the students; parents are welcome to attend. At this meeting, PSAT & SAT scores are explained, their importance is discussed, and then college admission and scholarship requirements are discussed to stress the correlation between PSAT/SAT scores and admission into universities and the awarding of scholarships. Starting in 2013, the PSAT was also administed to Gr. 8 students who chose to take it. The results, so far, have been good.
Students begin taking Dual Enrollment courses at HCC beginning in the second semester of 10th-grade. Students are encouraged to take a variety of courses to help them better determine their fields of interest. Only students who have at least a B average in each of their AYA courses is allowed the privilege of enrolling in college level courses. This grade requirement has been a great incentive for the students to perform well in their AYA coursework.
AYA has a full-time, Masters level, State of Florida certified Guidance Counselor on staff to assist students and families in all matters pertaining to college, career, and academic counseling. All students in grades 9 - 12 meet with the Guidance Counselor to ensure that they are on track for college. The Guidance Counselor has an open-door policy for all students, parents, or staff members who wish to stop by the Guidance office with a quick question. For more detailed meetings, an appointment is recommended.
The counselor often collaborates with other professionals to coordinate field trips or to bring interesting and informative workshops and seminars on campus for the students to attend. Some examples of these are the 11th and 12th grade field trip to Hillsborough Community College, the Scholarships & Financial Aid Seminar held at AYA and presented by a representative of the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Aid, a hands-on Fill-Out-Your FAFSA workshop, and a seminar on What You Need to Know to Get Into USF, given by a senior representative of USF’s Office of Admissions.
Students that exhibit behavioral concerns are referred for needs assessments or counseling by teachers and administrators. This policy enables children to be evaluated for stressors/traumas that may be causes of their actions. Often times, needs assessments or counseling sessions reveal students' frustration at poor grades, not understanding material in class and or normal growth and development stages. Students may need more tools for studying, someone to talk to, or parental interventions. Parents, teachers, administrators and counselors work closely with the full-time behavior specialist/ESE department to implement various interventions and remedies. Students benefit from these interventions and have a chance to express their opinions, feelings, and concerns. Often, study skills are addressed and plans are made to prioritize and organize students' academic goals. Students and parents may be referred to outside interventions and resources for therapy, testing and evaluations when needed.
Students are seen individually and in groups depending on the needs and circumstances. Once they are seen, feedback is given to the referring teacher/staff-member. Assessments, recommendations, conferences, extra help, testing and many other avenues toward solutions are identified through this process. Students feel a sense of empowerment when they are allowed to participate in planning their own personal goals. All counseling is administered through a strengths perspective to build egos, solidify values and morals and to identify personality characteristics that can be built upon. The policy of confidentiality in counseling creates an atmosphere of trust and rapport.