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“Emily’s perfect blend of personality, creativity, and strong work ethic comes through in all that she does. She is an essential member of the team and we are fortunate to have her,” says Associate Director of High School Academy Chad McGuire.

As the High School Academy (HSA) Program continues to grow, an addition to the team became critical. Emily Cole, who has experience as a counselor and teacher, is now the High School Academy Program Coordinator.

Since McGuire started in September 2019, the HSA program has experienced significant growth. However, while McGuire’s focus has been to grow and enhance the program, the need for someone to maintain relationships became imperative.

“Emily has been such a valuable addition to High School Academy. Prior to her arrival, we were having great success in building the program, meeting with interested schools, and helping high school students explore their interests at the college level. Emily; however, with her student-centered approach, has really taken it to the next level. Her focus on the student experience is exactly what this growing program needed.”

Cole began working at Post in 2010 as an academic counselor for online students. She quickly became an assistant director. However, in 2016, Cole left to explore teaching. She taught at Wilbur Cross in New Haven for a short time; however, it was not the journey she had hoped it would be. Cole knew she enjoyed working as a counselor, so she decided to come back to Post. However, after some time, Cole began to miss the interactions she had with students while teaching.

Even as a counselor, Cole had this one special moment with an online student who requested to meet her in person. The struggling single mother had wanted an opportunity to come in and sit down with her academic counselor in person rather than communicate over the phone.  “I loved being able to meet my student in person and make that connection. It was then that I realized my desire for working with people face to face.”

Shortly after, Cole began searching for some opportunities on campus that would enable her to work with students. While she initially thought she may be a main campus advisor, the HSA program was growing rapidly and needed help.  “The HSA program seemed a perfect blend of high school teaching and college advising. These students are at a critical point of growth in their lives both educationally and personally, and to support them as they transition into that next phase of opportunity is very meaningful to me. It has been such a pleasure to learn from them and recognize their accomplishments.”

Within her role, Cole really becomes a mentor for HSA students. She gathers an understanding of unique needs within each high school and even further, with each student. She has regular outreach to all the students, checking up on them to see how they are handling the course work. “I like to understand the student’s purpose in wanting to participate in High School Academy. Is it for college experience? Is it to earn a degree early? Do they want to take a couple courses or earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in addition to graduating high school? Understanding the “why” is important.”

Understanding the “why,” Cole expresses, allows for stronger connections and, ultimately, retention. While HSA has certainly been growing, Cole’s priority is to maintain these relationships, keep the students engaged in the program and to make them feel a part of the Post community.

As a part of making these students Post proud, Cole created a potential slogan – “Excel Early, Succeed Often,” with the intent of putting it on shirts, hats, etc. She is extending “make it personal” to our high school crowd!

While Cole loves seeing the program grow, she knows that not every high school student is equipped to handle college level work. Therefore, Cole finds it essential to give the students a full scope of the requirements and to ensure that their guidance counselor and/or teachers insist that they are ready for the challenge.

Currently, Cole works with over 70 students who participate in our High School Academy Program. For more information about High School Academy, please visit https://post.edu/hsacademy/