By LINDA LOBECK
KINGSFORD - A new, innovative program is going on for seniors at Kingsford High School this year - where they can get credit and take a class online that prepares them for life after high school.
Theresa Proudfit/Daily News Photo
Kingsford High School seniors Aaron Scheetz, left, Lillian Slajus, center, and Taylor Jacobson participate in Senior Seminar class, a program to prepare students for life after graduation.
The class in the brainchild of KHS counselor Nancy Jayne, who felt it would be a valuable program for seniors to prepare them for what they were going to do after graduation.
Although it's mostly for kids going to college, the student's plan could be to go to a traditional four-year college, two year college, technical school or military career.
The Senior Seminar class requires the students to report the first day of school and on state-mandated count days, but it's basically a stand alone class that they can do at their own pace. They have deadlines to meet, and can complete things as fast as they want.
"It's really an ongoing project to get them ready by applying to schools and preparing for college. I think it has made a huge difference with communicating with our seniors. More than half, 70 out of 122 seniors, are enrolled in the half-credit first semester class. And that number is still growing as others have come onboard," Jayne said.
During the first semester, they are focusing on understanding terminology involved in planning for college like what is an early decision and enrollment in college or what the functions of admissions and registrar's offices at college.
During this semester, the students will also know how to fill out a college and scholarship application.
The class will continue during the second semester for another half-credit.
Students will learn how to finalize financial aid, look at scholarships and grants for funding their education, what opportunities there are to study abroad, how to budget their money in college, advance testing or CLEP, and navigating the college experience.
Jayne isn't new to online education and has been designing online classes for many years as well as serving as an instructor for the Michigan Virtual Classroom.
"This is a way to offer all this information to seniors - all in one course," Jayne said. She noted that her intern last year, Melissa Teasley, was instrumental in gathering much of the information she has for this class.
"It's a pass/fail class. I have a checklist for each student and I record when they complete each item," she said. "The purpose of the class is to create a college awareness among the seniors."
And it's a class that is also helpful for parents.
"Since the parents went to college, so much has changed, from the steps to apply and get registered for classes, to financial aid and housing," she said. "It's hard for everyone to keep tabs on what has to be done, so this class helps to plan that out for the student."
Every time that Jayne gets information on schools and deadlines, she posts this information online for the class as well as to students in general on the school channel, webpage and through the senior English classes.
"Communication with seniors is heightened with this class. We want them not only to come up with Plan A, but Plan B, C, and D, too, for their future plans. If something falls through, they have other plans or options waiting," Jayne said.
The class has generated a lot of communication between students and Jayne, and she typically gets 25 e-mails a day from the students asking about different things. She monitors their progress with assignments, and requires that they show a computer screen shot of what they've done.
In addition to the major things like college applications and financial aid, there are a lot of small things that the class can also address.
For example, Jayne said they can make sure that the students have an acceptable picture available for taking the ACT test and they know how to go about getting their transcripts electronically from the school webpage.
"That's important for the students to do. They need to know what's on their transcript and see if they are in good standing. And with the online class, the students can chat with each other and give tips to their classmates on how to complete assignments," Jayne said.
Outside of the class, Jayne is still meeting individually with each student on their career planning and they still meet with Rita Edberg on scholarship opportunities.
"It's exciting to have this class in place at KHS, and there's more to come. Working on the class, I'm making templates and every year, the depth of the class can grow," Jayne said.
She added that she's constantly making notes as she talks with people or thinks of other issues that need to be added to this class. And the feedback from the students has been good as well as other people she's shared the class with already.
"It's been going pretty good so far and I'll survey the students as part of the final exam on how the class was for them. I ask that they schedule an hour a day to work on assignments for the class as well as time to do research and any written work or scholarship applications. Most of the kids go to the media center to work on it. I think that the class has fulfilled a lot of needs for the students," she said.
Another positive of the class is that it is also educating parents on what needs to be done.
"The reward has been that the students are proactive about their future plans rather than being reactive, " she said. "They can get everything they need to know in one class."
Linda Lobeck's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.