Ready for College
It's never too soon for students to begin thinking of themselves as college material. Middle and junior high students should be developing the habits and skills of successful students and taking challenging courses to prepare themselves for the increasing rigor of college prep classes in high school. Articles in this section address academic rigor, early college awareness, college access programs, and social supports for the college bound.
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A list of knowledge, skills, and attributes a student should possess to be ready to succeed in entry-level college courses.
Low-income and minority students, students with disabilities, and those who are the first in their families to go to college, are often unprepared for and discouraged from taking rigorous academic courses in high school. It is therefore imperative that all young people — especially students traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education — are prepared to succeed in entry-level college coursework.
Most college access programs provide activities such as financial counseling, last dollar scholarships, college visits, career guidance, tutoring, academic counseling, and test preparation courses. These comprehensive college access programs are increasingly viewed as critical partners in the effort to encourage more young people to pursue post-secondary education.
Dual enrollment (DE) allows high school students, including dropouts in some cases, to enroll in postsecondary education courses to earn college credit prior to high school graduation. DE is the most widely used acceleration mechanism and appears in a variety of well-known forms, such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and Advanced Placement.
Middle and early college high schools are typically located on community college campuses, which allow students to begin working toward an associate's degree while they complete the necessary coursework for a high school diploma, and they often, include a 13th year to allow students to complete their associate's degree. Both middle and early college high schools primarily serve underachieving students who are better served in a nontraditional high school setting. Many of these schools also focus on preparing students for the workplace and encourage students to use their postsecondary classes to gain a technical expertise.
The programs discussed here blend secondary and postsecondary programs for disadvantaged youth. This blending is an effective strategy that the authors believe should be more widely considered. Many of the components that make these programs successful with a disadvantaged student population are based on core principles of youth development: caring adults who serve as teacher, guide, and role model; a network of peer support; a high quality curriculum; and a competency-based approach to learning.
Tech Prep is a planned sequence of study in a technical field that begins as early as 9th grade and extends through at least two years of postsecondary education or an apprenticeship program. Tech Prep programs culminate in students receiving a postsecondary credential, such as an associate's degree or technical certificate, thus allowing them to continue their postsecondary education or to enter the workforce as a qualified technician.
College readiness is a multi-faceted concept that includes factors both internal and external to the school environment. The model presented here emerges from a review of the literature and includes the skills and knowledge that can be most directly influenced by schools.
Some English language learners may not know what to expect from the college application process. Others don't start thinking about college until their junior or senior year. One way to ensure that students are prepared to apply for college is to create a college-going culture in your school and across your district.
Students must graduate from high school with not only a firm foundation in mathematics and English, but also with the ability to approach with confidence new and unfamiliar tasks and challenges in college, the workplace and life. Embedded within the American Diploma Project benchmarks are four cross-disciplinary proficiencies — Research and Evidence Gathering, Critical Thinking and Decision Making, Communications and Teamwork, and Media and Technology — that will enable high school graduates to meet these challenges.
ACT has developed the following list of activities to help middle-school students improve their reading ability. Parents and educators can use this information to help ensure that these students are on target for college and career readiness.
For ELLs, the challenges of going to college and finding the right opportunities can be overwhelming, but ELL teachers can play an important role helping students apply to college and preparing for the application process as well. This month's Bright Ideas article offers some great ideas for ways that you can support ELL students as they consider their future plans.
In a Stanford University study, a majority of high school students reported speaking with a teacher at least once about college admissions requirements, but teachers reported receiving very little information to answer their students' questions. This ECS Policy Brief examines the findings of the study on students' questions to teachers on "college knowledge," teachers' responses to these questions, and policies that would better equip teachers to provide students with accurate information on college policies.
To close the gap between what is expected of a high school graduate and what the world beyond high school demands, state leaders will need to develop coherent policies that equate earning a high school diploma with being prepared for the demands of college and the workplace.
Social support strategies that sustain the preparation and success of all students are critical to improving academic achievement, raising expectations, and increasing the college-going rates of underserved students.
When you continue your studies after high school, should you tell the school and instructors about your learning disability? This article will help you decide when and how to disclose your disability to obtain accommodations.
How do a student's rights and responsibilities change when they move from high school to post-secondary education? Read these questions and answers from the Department of Education to find out.
How can you help high school students get ready for post-secondary education? Review these recommendations from the Department of Education and find out how to help students understand their disabilities, explain their disabilities to their professors well enough to obtain accommodations, and develop the computer and time-management skills required of college students.
If schools and students understand college readiness in a more comprehensive way, they can do more to develop the full range of capabilities and skills needed to succeed in college. At the heart of this definition is the notion that those most interested in college success will change their behaviors based on the greater guidance the definition offers on how to be college ready.