Many high schools use Naviance, but don’t always do the best job introducing it to their students. Naviance can send colleges your grades, test scores, and letters of recommendation as it interfaces directly with the Common App, and allows high schools to send out all of the information conveniently. However, this is far from the only use of the program, and many students benefit greatly from using Naviance to its full potential.
What is Naviance exactly? How does it work? And what do you need to know about it? In this article, we’ll go through the answers to these questions. While your counselors will teach you how to use the various tools Naviance provides, we’ll give you advice on how to best employ them to help both your college chances and your academic career. Naviance is a tool like any other, and using it correctly will multiply its effectiveness for you.
What is Naviance?
Naviance is a software program that lets schools track student progress, and easily send that information to colleges. It also supports letters of recommendation. Around 40% of high schools across the country use Naviance (including my high school back in the day).
The extent to which each school uses Naviance, and what they use it for, differs. Most schools use it primarily to aid with college applications, but the program offers resources for students of all grade levels. We don’t know how much your own school will use Naviance, so we’ll give a general overview of their most popular programs, and explain how to make the best use of them.
If your school does use Naviance, then your counselors will train you on how to actually use the programs. What we’ll do here is give you suggestions for how to get the most use out of them. All resources are helpful, but knowing how to best use a tool greatly increases its impact.
The most useful tool Naviance provides among their career readiness options is a resume builder. We have our own article on creating resumes, but using a software program can streamline the process, and ensure your formatting meets the highest standard. If you have the chance to use this, do so, as a well-crafted resume will serve you well for a long time.
The career assessments are less useful. While there’s some benefit to planning for your future, tools that claim to prognosticate your ideal career based on your current interests are generally flawed at best. The best way to use this tool is to learn about careers you otherwise would not have considered or had not heard of before. Awareness of the career options available will allow you to make better choices going ahead.
Career exploration tools can be used in a similar fashion. If you have some idea of what career you are interested in, then these are good tools for you. You can see what the reality of the career will be, and whether or not you are actually interested in doing that sort of work. Most careers are far less glamorous and exciting than they appear on TV, and many involve long hours of difficult work. You should not let this discourage you from pursuing your dream career, but you should be realistic about what you’re getting into. The career exploration tools are good for this.
One of the tools offered by Naviance is an organizational tool, which lets you track deadlines, test dates, and the various pieces of your application. We use something similar, though more in-depth and personalized, with our students. While you don’t have to use this system, you should keep your applications organized somehow.
There are many deadlines to track, and many different things to write and submit, and keeping them all organized can be a challenge for even the highest performing high school students. You should use an organizational system of some kind, and the one provided by Naviance is worthwhile. While it isn’t the best of all possible systems, it can and will serve you well.
The school fit exploration tool is one of the most useful Naviance provides, and we suggest you make use of it. This allows you to compare your GPA and test scores to the averages at various schools, and to see what you should count as reach, target, or safety. While there are other factors in admissions, your grades and test scores are the first thing schools look at, and see how you measure up compared to an average applicant is very useful.
Naviance has further tools to help you build your college list, based on the criteria you are looking for in a college. Researching colleges online is often difficult, so we suggest you make good use of this as well. While you likely have some idea about where you want to apply to college already, awareness of other options is always useful. Many small or regional colleges have great programs, and tools like this will help you learn about them.
Your own criteria will vary when building your college list, but you should be open to adding new schools. We suggest you use this tool to find and explore schools you otherwise wouldn’t have heard of or considered, but which may be a good fit for what you need.
Finally, Naviance will let you submit your letters of recommendation, and send your academic record to colleges. You will not need to do anything for this stage, but it’s good to keep in mind.
The college and career readiness tools are the ones most commonly used by schools, but they are far from all that Naviance offers. We’ll touch briefly on some of their other options, and how you can use them.
There are several tools to determine your strengths or to understand your learning style. Determining your strengths is useful, as this can inform what opportunities you pursue, or what careers are best suited to you. While these tests are not always entirely accurate, they can still give you insight into how you approach problems, and how you face the world around you.
Learning styles are more suspect, and many education and psychology experts doubt that there is any such thing as currently described. While these tests are harmless, don’t expect them to radically change your academic performance. While you may learn differently from your peers, changing learning styles is less likely to help; instead targeted studying and tutoring is usually the best way to improve academic performance.
Finally, Naviance offers a planner which functions on a longer timescale than just college applications. While most schools prefer to use their own planners (either physical or digital), some make use of this as well. While how much you use a planner depends on you, we do encourage all students to keep their activities organized and time planned out, as good time management skills will serve you well in college, and in your life beyond it.
High schools do their best to make your college application journey, but they don’t always have the time or resources to explain everything well. We hope this article serves as a useful addendum to what you learn from your teachers and counselors. Naviance is a set of powerful and useful tools, but as with all tools, how you use them controls how useful they are.
If you have questions about other tools in your arsenal, or want a more personalized approach to college applications, schedule a free consultation with us. While the tools high schools provide you are quite useful, your counselors can only do so much and have a great many students to help. If you want personalized advice and guidance, or have other concerns about your college admissions journey, reach out to us. We’re always happy to hear from you.