Crisis to college prep: Shelterwood gives students post-high-school options

One of Shelterwood’s goals is to help each student prepare for adulthood. The young people who come to Shelterwood are often dealing with challenges that derail forward thinking. Instead of focusing on college and career preparation, struggling teens and their families are mired in crisis management. Shelterwood is a safe place to recover hope for the future. 

Principal John Lawrence shares that by the time many families get to Shelterwood, helping their teen apply to top-choice schools isn’t of first concern:

“Ultimately the bigger issue in a lot of cases is, ‘Will my kid even have the opportunity to go to college if they continue on the path they are on?’” Mr. Lawrence says. “When we can help them to get on a better path, then college becomes an option again. That really brings hope to some of these kids, and even the parents, too.” 

Mr. Lawrence says they often counsel parents to remember that although their children might be in a tough spot now, it doesn’t mean that their future is lost. “It just means how we get there might be different,” says Mr. Lawrence. “There’s nothing wrong with taking that [different] route, either.”

Just like Shelterwood’s custom academic plans, their approach to getting students ready for future work and study is individualized. “We try to work with the needs of the students wherever they are at in that journey,” Mr. Lawrence says. They ask students what they want to accomplish, what their goals are, what they want to do after high school. Then they help them make a plan to reach those ambitions.

Sometimes those objectives necessitate going to college. Sometimes they don’t. “It’s not just college,” Mr. Lawrence says, saying some students need trade schools or other options to achieve their callings. Shelterwood wants to find out what they are interested in and give them ideas on how to pursue those passions.

If they do need a degree for their chosen vocation, Shelterwood is ready and willing. “Absolutely: It’s part of our whole process of wanting to help them with that next step,” Mr. Lawrence says.  

Shelterwood helps students search for schools, find scholarships and navigate the application process.  Shelterwood also has a semester-long, for-credit ACT preparation course and other resources to ready students for both the ACT and SAT.  They drive students to test sites or facilitate test sessions at Shelterwood when allowed by Individual Education Plan (IEP) accommodations.

If students are seniors, they can graduate from Shelterwood’s fully accredited academic school. “We offer all the courses needed toward graduation,” says Mr. Lawrence. “If a student is with us during that time, we will award the diploma based on the credits they came in with and the credits they earned from us.” Shelterwood graduating seniors have gone on to attend colleges such as the University of Tennessee, the University of Colorado, Colorado State, University of California schools, and the Air Force and Naval Academies. 

Mr. Lawrence says Shelterwood’s first priority is to help students stay on track for graduation, so they can go after their future goals—whether that includes college, junior college, trade school, apprenticeships or specialized work experience.  “If we can help a student graduate high school,” says Mr. Lawrence, “then they have that opportunity.” 

Want to know more about how Shelterwood crafts individual academic plans for each of its students? Talk to our admissions office to learn more!

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