This summer, I taught fourteen high school students. My course lasted two weeks, and we spent 8:30-11:30 a.m. together in the classroom. I had a variety of students. One young woman from Seattle, WA, was a rising high school freshman. I also had older students who were from New York City, Chicago, the suburbs of Rochester, NJ, CT, NJ, MA, and PA. The students represented various ethnicities and races and represented a myriad of worldviews and perspectives. I could not have asked for a better make-up for this classroom experience.
The first week we created a resume, drafted a cover letter to accompany the resume, completed a mock application for employment, and we spoke about job interviews: what can generally be asked of someone in a job interview and what cannot be asked of someone seeking employment. We also searched careers and talked about some contemporary topics of national interest, such as New York City's Stop and Frisk policy and our nation's shortage of doctors who speak a second language.
The second week, I brought in a guest speaker to talk about diversity. In such a race-conscious environment, it's a good thing to address these issues head on. This second week was more geared toward searching colleges and universities, reporting out various programs of study that students were interested in, and going over the Common Application, which is used by over 500 colleges and universities. Other aspects of the college application process were discussed, including admissions interviews, the personal statement, standardized test scores, scholarships, and financial aid.
At the end of the course I asked students to share with me in writing what they remember most about the course. Here is some of what was written by some of my students this summer:
"I feel like I have gained a new set of skills and I am ready for high school & college! I am happy that we talked about things like cultural diversity. I feel more educated about this subject and more confident in my self-identity."
"This class has taught me what to expect while I am applying for college."
"I really enjoyed being introduced to the process of making a resume and career. I also thought that the introduction to the Common Application was very helpful. This class has really jump started my planning for the future."
Before the 2013-2014 academic year begins, I will send a letter to my students wishing them well. I'll be sure to stay in touch with them during the academic year. They were certainly a very special group.