Setting goals within a college context reflects the concept of, “Backwards Mapping,” or beginning with the end in mind. For one student, the end may be getting into their top choice college. For another student, the end may be earning a full scholarship. For Jayla, who joined our Florence School District 3 Cohort as a rising 10th grader, her first year in our program was life changing. Ranked at the top of her class, Jayla, who will be the first in her family to attend college, was an extraordinary academic student who believed that strong academics were all that was needed for being offered admission to top colleges.

Approaching our curriculum with the intellectual curiosity that made her a top academic student, she quickly realized that she must be intentional in her actions to become more than an accomplished academic student. Her embrace of our curriculum during the 10th and 11th grades resulted in her becoming an exceptional college applicant as she enters her senior year of high school. Her impressive list of accomplishments during her sophomore and junior years of high school, landed her an invitation to the Yale Young Global Scholars Program; being selected as a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar; and a coveted fly-in invitation to Carleton College.

Jayla is an example of “It does not matter where you start, but how you finish.”

Our Curriculum

Since we do not want our program to present students with another area of stress on an already overloaded schedule, our curriculum is developed around 4 distinctive areas of focus for each year of high school:

9th Grade: The focus is on who you are and how you can make a smooth transition into high school.

10th Grade: The primary focus is on building on the successes of 9th grade or overcoming any challenges that may have resulted in failure to achieve all of your goals. The secondary focus is strengthening each of the 3 pillars of our program: Scholarship, Leadership, and Service. 

11th Grade: The primary focus is maximizing this critically important year of high school in building a strong brand and making yourself the most competitive college and scholarship applicant possible by the end of your junior year. As in 10th grade, the secondary focus is strengthening each of the 3 pillars of our program: Scholarship, Leadership, and Service—areas that will be critically evaluated when you apply to colleges and for scholarships as a high school senior. 

12th Grade: Our Senior Cohort begins in June, prior to beginning your senior year of high school, so that your college application and scholarship plan is developed and essays are written prior to the opening of school so that you are well ahead of classmates and in a better position to reduce your stress and enjoy your senior year of high school.

In our 10th grade curriculum, students will: 

  1. Reflect on the successes and challenges of 9th grade as they set, revise, or continue pursuing goals across each of our 3 pillars of Scholarship, Leadership, and Service.
  2. Revisit their gifts, talents, personality, learning style, and temperament within the context of moving in an intentional way to develop their brand. 
  3. Reflect on how their mindset and grit are reflected in their coursework, extracurricular activity involvement, and community service.
  4. Reflect on how their goals are aligned with their educational/career aspirations.
  5. Explore the type of colleges and programs aligned with their body of work and family’s financial need.

Students are assigned to discussion groups of 6 – 8 students, guided by a college intern, in a supportive and encouraging environment where they become part of a “Conversational Community” of students from throughout the country with similar hopes and dreams for the future.