We know effective college and career planning starts long before a student’s senior year. To prepare students for postsecondary success, Manchester High School is using an innovative way to implement a RISE by 5 strategy, on-track conferences, to start grade 9 students thinking holistically about postsecondary planning. By creating and maintaining a student resume and developing a personal narrative through Grade 9 on-track conferences and freshman year coaching, MHS students initiate a process of preparing for their future college applications and college essays through all four years of high school.
Like students at all RISE high schools, Manchester High School’s freshmen participate in on-track conferences to engage in conversations about their progress and goals. However, MHS educators also put their own spin on the conferences, which they call “Red Hawk Talk.” Through on-track conferences scheduled during a “freshman first day” for Grade 9 students before the official first day of school, educators engage students in a conversation about building a resume, developing college and career goals, and pursuing Manchester’s Vision of a Graduate. Using a customized conference protocol, educators provide freshmen with a resume template as a starting point to get students to begin thinking about and being able to articulate their strengths and growth areas. They also discuss the importance of getting involved in the school community; they discuss students’ interests and the importance of extracurricular activities when applying for colleges. Students then work to build and revise their resumes over the course of their high school careers. This encourages students to chart their course early in their high school careers, supporting postsecondary readiness and success.
In addition to helping grade 9 students start to shape what their future plans could look like, the student resume informs the written personal narrative pieces grade 9 students begin to work on during their Freshman Seminar. The personal narrative writing helps grade 9 students develop and strengthen skills needed to prepare for the college essay development that will occur in writing seminars and boot camps leading up to their senior year. MHS English Instructional Coach Amanda Navarro developed the curriculum for Freshman Seminar, and supports juniors and seniors to improve their personal narrative writing.
Providing 9th graders with a head start on postsecondary planning is incredibly advantageous, especially as job growth in occupations requiring a postsecondary credential continues to outpace occupations that do not, according to a 2019 report from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
From Freshman First Day through to graduation, MHS continues to reinforce to students the importance of postsecondary planning and works to best position them to be successful as Red Hawks and as MHS graduates.