The Franklin Learning Institute College Transition Program
Known on campus by its acronym – FLI
Why Do Students Come To FLI?
FLI students have already graduated from high school. They possess average to superior intellectual abilities. However, establishing and attaining realistic goals has been difficult. The desire for more independence from parents is balanced by the need for continuing support, better self-advocacy, and sustainable self-reliance. Sometimes, the first semester or first year of college did not go well. FLI is a transitional program that provides the opportunity to address some important educational gaps before moving ahead with college or career.
The Benefits of FLI
Experiencing novel situations and discovering new things can create stress and anxiety. Taking the necessary risks for growth and independence is less intimidating in an academic community that is safe and supportive. FLI’s “preparation through practice” model matches students with wise advisors and experienced teachers who are partners in the learning process. Knowing what to expect – academically, residentially, and socially – before stepping foot on a college campus, helps our FLI students transition to college with more confidence because the skills sets are now in place to achieve success.
FLI Campus Setting
FLI is located on the picturesque 75-acre campus of Franklin Academy, an independent college preparatory school. The campus is located in East Haddam, Connecticut, midway between New York City and Boston, and close to New Haven, Hartford, and New London. FLI dormitories are small residences across the campus that house 6 to 11 students. All campus facilities – classrooms, library and learning center, dining hall, field house, student and health centers, and hiking and biking trails – are within easy walking distance.
FLI students begin their program in early September. The initial five weeks of the school year involve extensive orientation activities, an academic assessment, an inventory of learning competencies, and seminars on specific topics. This is a time when students set goals in consultation with their advisors, creating personal plans that focus on their course of study, college and career aspirations, and strategies for moving forward. This is also a time to enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded peers that often leads to lasting friendships.
Academic programs and schedules are completely personalized for FLI students, resulting in a course of study to achieve individual goals. With a focus on “preparedness,” advisors help students seek the supports and structure necessary for growth and independence, providing advice about course selections, reviewing progress, and suggesting services such as tutoring, counseling, or personal development seminars. FLI also provides the option to earn college credits through a partnership with the University of Connecticut that allows students to take UCONN classes on our campus.
FLI seminars are an enriching addition to more traditional academic classes. These presentations are team-taught by FLI instructors and members of the counseling staff. Sessions focus on many of the realities of college and work, providing hands-on experiences to practice skills that are necessary to become a successful adult. Then, there are these eye-opening seminars
College Stories (teachers share their own college experiences, especially the challenge of making social connections)
Mock College Admissions Committee (students deliberate over three sample files, including one for a student on the Autism Spectrum)
Digital Footprint (asks the question – how exposed are you online?)
Managing Your Parent (independence, privacy, setting limits, and the art of negotiation with mom and dad who are paying your college tuition)
Dating (understanding the social nuances of dating in college)
Girl Safety and Guy Code (smart strategies for staying safe in multiple social situations)
Diagnosis Disclosure (owning your diagnosis, self-advocacy, and what to share with whom and when)
Sleep Habits (or, avoiding the all-nighter as you rush about to meet deadlines, complete term papers, and study for finals)
FLI creates opportunities for eligible students to work in local governmental agencies, private businesses, and non-profit institutions. As a result of these experiences, FLI students build valuable employment skills in areas of vocational interest. Skills developed and practiced include direction taking, self-advocacy, problem-solving, and interpersonal communication. These competencies facilitate the transition to personal independence.
Since we believe that the world is our classroom, FLI students have the opportunity each year to participate in travel/study initiatives in the company of creative, experienced, and dedicated educators. International destinations have included Mexico and the Caribbean, Ireland and the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Greece and Turkey, China and Australia, India and Nepal, Japan, Cuba, Iceland, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. Any FLI student who is in good standing is eligible to participate.
The Capstone Experience is about service to others – a core tenet of the Franklin community. Throughout the year FLI students study the foundations of service learning. They examine various social, economic, health, and educational issues, and develop an awareness of how public services assist those in need. They research charitable and non-profit organizations and evaluate how they might make positive contributions to their communities. Upon the completion of second semester classes in early May, students work in teams across East Haddam for a week, initiating and completing projects to serve the greater good.
College and Career Counseling
To assist in the search for the right college or university, we employ a full-time college counselor who is a resource for all students and parents as they explore a variety of educational options, career possibilities, and vocational interests. In addition to conducting formal presentations to parents during our fall conference and spring seminar weekend, the college counselor works very closely with every student to provide a wide range of services, support, and advice. The counselor hosts admissions representatives from a variety of colleges who visit campus to meet our students and helps with the planning of the week-long college tour that is available to FLI students each October.