By Kaitlin Levesque, Network Facilitator
As a new partner in the RISE Network, Middletown High School (MHS) is no stranger to the postsecondary planning process. In fact, MHS has developed a comprehensive approach in Grades 9 through 12 to support students and families in pursuing personalized, ambitious, and attainable postsecondary plans. We know that the postsecondary planning process can be daunting for students and their families. Purposefully scaffolding the process can assist students and their families in planning their next steps. MHS demonstrates how network schools are embracing the RISE by 5 strategies, specifically working to advance college and career support for all students.
At MHS, conversations around postsecondary plans begin in ninth grade. Developmental school counseling lessons are delivered through schoolwide advisory, where students are encouraged to build their resume by volunteering or through involvement in extracurricular activities. Students are engaged in intentional conversations around career clusters and course selection, preparing them to individually plan with their school counselor. In these meetings consideration is given to postsecondary plans, transferable skills, and the potential courses to support these goals. Families are invited to attend these sessions to understand the student’s course of study and intended post-secondary options, while also developing an awareness of school-offered support.
These conversations continue each year, building to Junior Planning Night, where school counselors provide students and their families with a thorough overview of postsecondary options and processes. Students and families are then invited to meet individually with their school counselor to discuss the best options for their unique circumstances. This includes, but is not limited to, a discussion of the student’s transcript, interests, AP potential, and financial situation. Students and families leave these discussions with actionable next steps ranging from investigating a job shadow, studying for the SATs, building a resume, and speaking with upperclassmen about the rigor of potential senior-year courses. Each junior English class then co-facilitates workshops with the College and Career Center, resulting in students completing personal narratives prior to the summer, which prepares students for college applications or speaking to their strengths in job interviews.
The summer prior to senior year, the College and Career Counselor conducts a workshop open to all senior students, allowing them to get ahead with their postsecondary plans before their senior year begins. Students can complete applications and work on college essays with the support of a college and career expert. School counselors then prioritize meeting with each individual senior student and their family, to ensure that they have an ambitious and attainable plan after graduation. Throughout the year the school counselors conduct workshops ranging from administering the ASVAB for students enlisting in the military to a collaborative workshop with local community colleges where students can complete the application and the FAFSA at one time.
Beginning college and career readiness conversations during freshman year gives students the opportunity to investigate potential postsecondary options within the safety of their high school support network. As priorities may shift, the school culture promotes an understanding of options and possibilities; while knowledgeable school counselors facilitate discussions individualized to the needs and interests of the student and family. This purposeful postsecondary planning allows every student to graduate MHS with a plan and a thorough understanding of the implications and investment of their college and career pursuits.