Arguably, one of the main purposes of education is to prepare students for life beyond the classroom—the component of daily living that involves supporting one’s self by means of employment. Certainly, the skills developed through the study of varied subject matters and disciplines plays a significant role in that, but what are the programs in place that are geared specifically toward assisting students with the nuts and bolts of planning for their future careers?
In April, we published an article about Colchester Middle School’s College and Career Week, an event designed to promote CMS students’ exploration and discussion of careers. In a similar vein, Colchester High School has a number of programs and resources in place to offer guidance and insight for students and their parents around the subject of college and career readiness.
For starters, CHS offers a dual enrollment option for its students—an arrangement whereby students can enroll in a college-level course for college credit while simultaneously fulfilling a graduation requirement. CHS partners with the University of Vermont, the Community College of Vermont, and Champlain College for dual enrollment opportunities.
CHS also sponsors Fast Forward, which typically takes place in the spring while juniors are taking the NECAP assessments. Fast Forward is a program designed for high school freshmen and sophomores that provides hands-on, interactive exposure to a host of career opportunities. Fast Forward is presented in partnership with Linking Learning to Life, a nonprofit organization that also focuses upon preparing students for their lives after high school. Vermont Guidance Central is another resource utilized by CHS for this purpose.
CHS’s guidance department coordinates a comprehensive collection of parent outreach programs to assist with college and career planning and preparedness. For example, informational events on a variety of topics like the college timeline process, financial aid and employment opportunities, the differences between types of college applications, financial literacy and life after graduation, and so on are regularly scheduled and available for parents and students alike.
CHS also uses an extensive set of skills and interest assessments in order to help students identify career paths for which they might be well suited. Students complete a learning styles inventory, as well as other tools like O*NET, multiple intelligences inventories, writing assessments, and a host of others.
In addition, CHS’s teacher advisory (TA) program has been designed to allow all students to develop a rapport with at least one teacher beginning with their freshman year through the end of their junior year—and among other things, teachers can serve as resources to the students for information about life after high school through this rapport.
In order to augment educational opportunities and expand class choices, CHS also participates in Virtual High School. Virtual High School offers over two hundred additional classes for academically motivated students—not as a replacement for CHS courses but as supplemental electives. In this way, independent and strong students wishing to further challenge themselves may access course offerings not currently available through CHS, allowing them to focus on specific areas of interest. Virtual High School is geared toward students in grades 10–12, and students must have two recommendations from two of their current teachers to be eligible for one of the twenty-five “seats” per semester available for CHS students. The school has committed computers and technical support during every mod of the day to support learning through Virtual High School on campus, and students can also participate off-campus through their own resources. All of Virtual High School’s instructors are high school teachers in accredited schools—including CHS English teacher Aimee deLaricheliere.
CHS also partners with two technical training centers—the Burlington Technical Center (BTC) and the Center for Technology, Essex (CTE). Participating students complete training that satisfies graduation requirements while gaining hands-on training in a career area of interest to them. The opportunities available to CHS students through these partnerships have also served to augment the learning opportunities and better prepare students for their lives beyond high school.
We face unique challenges in education today because, as we previously described in our June 7 article “The Changing Face of Education,” our students are busily preparing for careers that do not even exist yet. (These video clips offer a glimpse into what that means for educators.)
As such, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are of even more importance; students must be able to translate the theories and concepts they learn now toward applications they will use in their careers that have yet to be developed.
For more information about college and career planning programs at Colchester High School, please contact Jean Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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