Why a formal Guidance Program at Trinity Christian School?
Because many of you asked for it! Although Trinity Christian School, at many levels and in many ways, has been very intentional in partnering with families to guide our students with respect to their lives after Trinity, as well as working with our students on an individual basis, a formal Guidance Program was nonetheless one way to be more intentional about shepherding the hearts and minds of our students as they prepare for life after Trinity. So we’ve come alongside you in this way, providing a bit of structure for our students in this area, as well as some time and space during the school week for students to be able to think about life after Trinity.
Brief Overview of What We Hope to Accomplish in our Guidance Program
Trinity’s Guidance Program officially begins in the junior year of high school. At that time, juniors begin to meet with Mr. John McCombs, the high school Guidance Counselor, once a week as part of their regular course curriculum. This occurs in a classroom format, and continues weekly throughout the junior and senior years. Mr. McCombs seeks to engage the students during this time with regard to career and calling, and planning for life after Trinity, wherever they feel the Lord might be calling them. Although most of our students do attend four-year colleges upon graduating from Trinity, the efforts at guidance are broader than just planning for college, both in terms of exploring alternatives for those not called to attend four year institutions of higher learning, as well as looking beyond the time spent at a university for those who do.
For juniors, the initial few weeks of guidance is spent preparing students for the PSAT, which is administered at the school by Mr. McCombs. Familiarity with the PSAT format, as well as taking practice tests, are typically quite helpful in aiding students to do their best. Once complete, we begin to look more broadly at what students initial thoughts are with regard to the Lord’s calling upon their lives after Trinity. For those thinking the Lord would have them study at a college or university, we begin to look at and discuss things like fields of study, costs, financial aid, application, essays, and more. Scholarships are discussed and students are encouraged to begin exploring in this area. Most scholarship endeavors must wait, however, until senior year. Career and college fairs are highly recommended during this time, and numerous schools come to visit Trinity’s students on our own campus. As the year progresses, time is again dedicated to standardized testing preparation, hoping to give students every advantage to do their very best on the SAT, ACT, or both. Khan Academy is a very helpful resource in this regard, so we suggest you explore it for yourself.
For seniors, the focus shifts to how we can help them prepare for life after Trinity, both collectively and individually. For many, this includes working on college applications, resumes, letters of recommendation, scholarships, and more. We try to challenge students to seek what the Lord is calling them to do by again looking at topics such as career and calling. What are their gifts and talents? What are the world’s needs? What are God’s priorities in terms of advancing His kingdom here on earth? And, most importantly, where might all three of these intersect? Dr. Amy Sherman, in her engaging work Kingdom Calling, would refer to this as a “vocational sweet spot,” and we seek to help students find the sweet spot in their lives: where they can do what they’re passionate about, in loving service to their neighbor, to the glory of triune God. Some students come to closure on many of these issues by the end of their fall semester. Others might be struggling to discern their path as they walk across the stage for graduation. Either way, we try and work with students at their own pace and according to God’s timing, which is different for each of them. Either way, our hope is that our Trinity graduates are leaving us with a good grasp of who they are in Christ, how God has gifted them, and how the Lord might use that for His glory.
In addition to classroom work with juniors and seniors, Mr. McCombs may occasionally distribute information to freshman and sophomore students and their families, as opportunities arise in terms of summer programs for our students, work opportunities, scholarships, and more. Be on the lookout for these, and if there’s anything specific you’re interested in, please ask!
Opportunities to earn College Credit at Trinity right now!
In case you haven’t heard, high school students can begin to earn college credit at Trinity Christian School as early as their sophomore year! Trinity currently offers five dual-enrollment courses, where students are enrolled at Geneva College and receive college credit for their work, while being taught right here at Trinity by our own qualified faculty. Offerings for the 2017-18 school year include the following:
- For sophomores, one offering, Modern European History, a year-long course taught by Dr. James Hommes (6 credits).
- For juniors, one offering, (AP) US History, also a year-long course taught by Dr. James Hommes (6 credits).
- For seniors, three offerings: Calculus, a year-long taught by Mr. James Bindschadler (4 credits); and Old Testament and New Testament Survey, each a semester, and both taught by Dr. Peter Smith (3 credits each).
Additional fees are associated with these classes, but they are substantially less expensive than paying for college credit, even at most community colleges. Students will receive a transcript from Geneva College upon the completion of the course and can then transfer the course to the college or university they choose to attend. Since the final decision to receive transcripts lies with the college or university the student plans to attend, we recommend that the family inquire with the university to ensure credits will transfer.
Please contact the TCS office for details. Trinity continues to offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses as well, in the event a family prefers the AP option to Dual Enrollment. Current AP offerings include AP US History (junior year), and AP Calculus (senior year).
Guidance Events at Trinity Christian School
Each fall, Trinity hosts two nights that are of particular interest for those seeking to go to college after their time at TCS.
The first event is a Financial Aid Information Night, where high school students and parents are encouraged to come and ask questions regarding how to meet the challenge of increasing higher educational costs. Although all high school students and parents are welcome, this is targeted mostly at juniors and seniors and their families…but it’s never too early to learn what lies ahead, and to begin to plan accordingly.
The second event is a FAFSA Completion Night, where college-bound high school seniors and their families can, if they bring all the necessary materials, complete their FAFSA in just one night!
Mr. McCombs hosts both of these events in the TCS Computer Lab, and the instruction is provided by local PHEAA Representatives. Keep an eye on the TCS Calendar for exact dates and times. If these do not work for you, similar events are most likely available in the public school district in which you reside. Please contact Mr. McCombs to explore further.
Additionally, throughout the school year, numerous colleges and universities come visit our students right here at TCS, providing opportunities for them to ask questions and get to know what different schools have to offer. Because our class time is valuable, we do try and focus our efforts on schools that our students often matriculate at, that we’ve partnered with in this past, or those we are looking to explore new partnerships with. So, your child can expect to have opportunities to get to know schools such as Calvin, Geneva, Grove City, La Roche, Liberty, Messiah, and many more, right in our own hallways.
Events outside of Trinity Christian School
Mr. McCombs does his best to keep students abreast of other opportunities to explore life after Trinity, outside of Trinity’s walls. Numerous college fairs and open houses are advertised, as well as trade school and job fairs.
A couple events are worth noting out here: first, the National College Fair, typically held in February at the Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. Students are encouraged to attend (typically juniors and seniors), and parents often like to go with them, as hundreds of colleges and universities, as well as trade and technical schools, are represented. Secondly, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Bus Tour, also in the spring, usually around the time of Spring Break (although not always coinciding with it). For those considering an HBCU, this is a great way to get to know many of the nation’s most prestigious HBCUs. Keep an eye out for more information on both of these throughout the school year. They are both well worth a student’s time and energy!
Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/
National College Fairs https://www.nacacfairs.org/attend/national-college-fairs/
Mr. John McCombs
TCS Guidance Counselor