Student led conferences don’t need to be a formal event

Taryn Robinson, Opinions Editor

At almost a month through each semester, Manhattan High School holds student-led conferences for grades 9-12. These conferences are mainly for checking grades, schedules and following up on what students’ post-high school goals and plans look like.

While this seems beneficial for students, it is quite the opposite. At conferences, students meet with their Advisory teacher and parent(s) to discuss their progress in the semester. While this is a great opportunity to sit and discuss this, it shouldn’t have to be done in school with your Advisor. The Mentor Editorial Board agrees that student-led conferences should not be formalized into an event because they provide no actual benefit.

MHS switched to student-led conferences almost three years ago, so that students could be more involved in sharing their own grades and their struggles. In Advisory, students will fill out what’s called an IPlan in which they share their post-secondary goals and progress toward them. The IPlan is useful when it comes to mapping out classes and putting together what credits students still need to graduate, but when it comes to future careers and post-secondary plans, some students feel stuck as they don’t know what their future looks like outside of MHS.

Furthermore, Advisory teachers often aren’t really connected to students as they only have a student in no more than two classes per week, meaning they don’t really know a lot about every single student. In student-led conferences, students are supposed to share what they’re struggling with and advisors are supposed to help them fix those issues, but if the advisor doesn’t really know their students all that well and the material they’re learning, they can’t help them.

As high school students are coming to an age where it is very important to start taking responsibility and finding a resolution instead of sitting down with parents and their advisor. While it’s beneficial to have help, eventually there will come a time where students will have to make their own choices and solve their own problems. Students need to learn to rely on themselves, not on teachers or parents.

The one good side of student-led conferences is that students can actually talk about what their struggles are if parents don’t regularly talk to their kid(s) about school and grades. Parents should regularly take the time to ask their kid what’s happening at school, as it would benefit not only their kid’s current situation but prevent future struggles as well.

Instead of students having to schedule a time at MHS to sit down with their advisor and parent(s), a talk should be done at home with parents. If necessary, students could schedule a Zoom call with the particular teacher that teaches the subject they are struggling with.