LIFE AFTER NAVIANCE

The unexpected and sudden announcement by Hobsons - Naviance on January 23, 2018, that they were pulling out of the international market came as a surprise to everyone. While complaints about Naviance had been increasing over the years, its impending death caught international counselors off guard. On June 30, 2019 Naviance will be gone.

The five stages of grief proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying seemed to sum up what many counselors were voicing on Facebook and in email messages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

For many counselors, Naviance is the only software platform they have used. Some had been using Naviance (and for the really old-timers, its predecessor, “The College Counselor-TCC”) for 20+ years. When founders Steve Smith and Shaun Fanning launched Naviance, it quickly became the platform of choice and revolutionized the way counselors did their job. Unfortunately, after Hobsons bought it out, Naviance lost much of its lustre.

Over the next few months international counselors will need to review, identify, purchase and implement a replacement platform. Whether you are actively reviewing options now, or will postpone the decision for a few months, here are some things you will want to consider.  

Needs Assessment

First, you need to think broadly about what you need a platform to do for you, your students and your school. Different schools have used Naviance differently - some were basics users, while others maximized its features. Make a list of features that are critical to you, while considering other options that would be helpful or useful.

Are there specific countries where a significant number of your students apply? Is a parent portal important? Do you need something to assist in the writing of personal statements or recommendations? Is a robust worldwide college search feature important? Do you need the platform to track all kinds of student information, assessment and college outcome data for a board report or school profile? Do you have hard and fast budgetary limitations? Do you need something that supports students in the final two years of high school or for four years? Perhaps the question is whether you are seeking a platform with a focus more on the student side (e.g., searches or essay help) or a focus on the counselor side (e.g., data management and reporting)?

Until you can figure out what you need in a product, it’s going to be difficult to figure out your “best fit” software platform. This Google document lists many of the features that were included in Naviance. Make a copy for your own use and identify the features that are critical (or desirable) for you.


Review Platforms

Once you have developed a rubric, it’s time to learn about the different products. Watch a webinar or request a demonstration. Ask if there is a trial account you can use to get a feel for the product. Use your rubric to assess each platform.

Request clear cost details from the companies you are considering. Find out if it includes all of the modules you need (e.g., are there extra costs for electronic submission of documents?). Does the license include all of your high school students or just the junior and senior class? If your high school grows or shrinks in a year, does the cost change?

Find out if there are similar schools (e.g., size, number of counselors, college destinations) who are already using a platform. While those contacts can be helpful, remember that the company is going to give you names of satisfied customers. Also, these counselors have probably only used this product so they won’t have a frame of reference to help you compare other platforms.


Making a Decision

Different counseling offices have different levels of administrative oversight. Determine how much your administration needs (or wants) to be involved in a decision about a new platform. If you are getting pushback because of the cost, remind stakeholders how college counseling software is critically important and can help students maximize their admission chances. Point out that some families are making a significant 4-year college “investment” and we owe it to them to have software that keeps accurate data, manages applications and provides electronic document submission. Not only is a platform necessary for a 21st century counseling office, being able to track all college results can help the school’s marketing and admission offices.

Demonstrate the platform or platforms you are considering. Discuss the budget. Talk about potential savings on express mail charges. Are there other savings or cost reductions (i.e., copying) that would allow budget shifts? If necessary, consider an additional “senior fee” to pay for it. If the 2017-18 budget was already spent on a Naviance license, see if the new company will allow you a few months of “grace” so that you can work on the setup at the end of this academic year and be ready to implement it as 2018-19 begins.

Migration

Think about the best time to make the switch. When is a less busy time to get a new platform setup? Implementing and learning a new system during the heavy application season is a bad idea. You could wait until late in the 2018-19 school year but remember that in June 2019 your Naviance data will forever disappear.

How will the migration be done? By you or the company? How much historical data will you bring in? Will you need to turn off edit access for students and counselors during the changeover? In general, it’s a good idea to assume it will take longer than planned to get the new system set-up.

If you’re not computer savvy, become friends with a person with tech skills. There are always setup decisions to be made. Do you make them in isolation or do you create a small transition group?  When will you be able to block out some half days to work on this?

Should you overlap two systems or go “cold turkey”? If you’ve ever switched student information systems you are aware of how difficult the transition period can be. Accept the change. Make it work.

Think about whether you keep your rising seniors on Naviance but have the younger students use the new system. Is this easier or more complicated?  If you keep the Class of 2019 on Naviance, how do you keep the new system in sync (e.g., adding a prospective college in Naviance obviously won’t update in the new system). Would the new platform allow you to import your data for some grade levels now and then do it a second time for your current seniors? Would there be any data integrity issues with a second import?

Although Naviance is allowing international schools to continue to use their product from the end of their contract until June 2019, be aware that once your contract expires, Naviance will revert to the “basic” version so extra modules like Do What You Are and Test Prep will not continue. Consider that had you planned to use these modules in 2018-2019.

The Launch

Before you announce the new platform, check the accuracy of your imported data. Families need to have faith that GPAs and other data in the new platform are 100% accurate. Prior to the demise of Naviance use the export and report options to archive all of your Naviance data and save it somewhere. Having a backup of your historical data could be a lifesaver.

Schedule some time for training of counselors and office assistants. How will the primary users be trained? Does the company provide training options? Counselor credibility is important; make it look like you know what you’re doing before launching. Fake it until you can make it.

A smooth transition and launch requires counselors to have a good understanding of the system. Don’t introduce it to students or teachers if the data is not “clean” or completely setup. Consider launching it to one grade level at a time. Perhaps hold a grade level meeting where students create an account, check data accuracy, and are shown a few key features.

Make certain you advertise your world-class counseling program and let people know that you’re excited to about this enhancement. Brag a little. Remind stakeholders about what you are doing to enhance the college selection and application process for your students.


Use your International ACAC Colleagues

A hallmark of International ACAC is the collaborative nature of its members. While you might be the only counselor in your school, you’re not the only counselor going through this process. Reach out to other counselors. Join the International ACAC or International Naviance closed Facebook groups. Watch the recent webinar on this topic. Attend the summer conference. Several counselors are using other products. Find out who they are and contact them.

The companies providing college counseling platforms have been gracious in their support of international counselors, enhancing their products to make them relevant to international students, and assisting users as they “get out of Naviance.” Some of the major companies are Bridge U, Cialfo, Maia Learning, and Unifrog. Careers.101 is another option you might consider. 

Move forward. Develop your rubric and determine what is important to you. Then take some time to look at product options. If you’re a very small school it may even be possible to get by without a paid service through the creative use of shared Google documents. While you still have some time to come up with Naviance alternative, you will need to take action. Remember how you tell your students to never wait until a deadline to do something? Be a good role model for your students - don’t wait until the Naviance death deadline before you take action.

Good luck to all of us as we select and transition to a new system.


Dale Ford
University Counsellor
British International School, Phuket|

For more resources on "Life After Naviance," see our Government Relations & Advocacy page

 
Share this post:

Comments on "LIFE AFTER NAVIANCE"

Comments 0-5 of 1

Reem Ahmadi - Wednesday, April 04, 2018
21749931

THANK YOU!!! :) I was on here for another reason but really grateful that I stumbled across this!!

Please login to comment