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From the Counselor - Andy Jacobsen

As one of Kennedy High School counselors for the past 11years, Andy Jacobsen has played an instrumental role in making a college education more attainable for thousands of Iowa youth. As he likes to say, “I wear a variety of hats.”

Between applying to different institutions and programs, financial aid, and overall decisions about future plans, the advice of Jacobsen and other high school counselors can make a large difference in students’ ability to cope with the transition.

It’s hard to imagine how one man can meet the needs of hundreds of students with varying aspirations, however, ever since he established a partnership with the Iowa College Access Network approximately nine years ago, Jacobsen has been able to provide the individualized attention and advising that is most beneficial for his students.

Jacobsen identifies that “it’s a tremendous challenge to meet the needs and expectations of all the constituencies that he works with...typically these groups of students have needs on different ends of the spectrum. It can be daunting to support a student who struggles just to graduate on one end and a student who is applying to Harvard on the other.” Jacobsen’s favorite part of his job is the individual and personal counseling. His ability to develop relationships with students and families is extraordinarily rewarding. “Helping a student see a different perspective or teaching a student a skill or how to use a tool to help them become more successful are the moments that make the job very rewarding,” Jacobsen says.

Jacobsen makes referrals to ICAN that often make the difference between choosing to attend college or only completing high school.“…the people are wonderful to work with. They are professional, eager to help, and extremely accommodating. ICAN’s materials are top-notch and the services are free…I know that when I make a referral to ICAN for a consultation that my student or family will receive quality service. That means a lot to me, after all, my reputation is on the line too,” Jacobsen says. ICAN staff has the expertise to advise students in all areas of college planning.

While the duties of Jacobsen and ICAN may seem daunting, Jacobsen claims he also sees a challenge in the role of a high school student in today’s society. He doesn’t know if he could function as a high school student in today’s environment because the expectations and level of involvement that students place upon themselves - advanced classes, work, and involvement in organizations – amaze him. “Teens have remarkable resiliency, but our culture…is not doing them any favors.”

It is clear that as long as students, counselors, and community organizations continue to work together, Iowa youth will have an
excellent opportunity to expand their educational horizons.

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