What Can Schools Do To Foster College-Bound Culture?

» Posted by on Mar 22, 2017 in U can B | Comments Off on What Can Schools Do To Foster College-Bound Culture?

What Can Schools Do To Foster College-Bound Culture?

Much attention has been paid to the national graduation and dropout rates. However, those discussions ignore another population of students: those who graduate from high school, but are not prepared to succeed in postsecondary education or the workforce. According to a recent study by the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute (EPI), nationally, the unemployment rate for those who recently earned a high school diploma or equivalent degree (ages 17-20) and are not enrolled in additional schooling is 18 percent.

So, how can we work to increase the number of students that are pursuing a college degree? One solution is college-bound culture. Schools that focus on fostering this in their classrooms help build the expectation of postsecondary education for all students.

Through extensive research, the Pathways to College Network has established six principles to guide the actions of educators for creating an environment that pushes students to pursue a college education. These principles are:

  • Expect that all underserved students are capable of being prepared to enroll and succeed in college
  • Provide a range of high-quality, college-preparatory tools for students and families
  • Embrace social, cultural, and varied learning styles when developing the environment and activities at the school
  • Involve leaders at all levels in establishing policies, programs, and practices
  • Maintain sufficient financial and human resources for this mission
  • Assess policy, programs, and practices regularly to determine their effectiveness

These goals may seem idealistic, but with the right strategies, it possible for educators and school administrators at all schools to make them a reality. Focusing on how schools can help students succeed beyond high school is vital for creating a culture that promotes the value of a college education. And as you can imagine, the key ingredient for creating this culture is dedicated teachers and counselors. Here are some ways to get started:

Counseling Office

A school’s counseling office is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to encouraging students to think beyond high school and determine what it is they want to do in their career. Here are few ways guidance counselors can help:

  • Hold conferences with students frequently, especially during 10th and 11th grade, to monitor future plans
  • Become friendly with local admissions officers; invite them to come to your school
  • Invite local college graduates to speak about their experiences
  • Hold a Career Day or College Fair
  • Send a newsletter to parents with useful college information
  • Hold workshops for students on topics such as: writing essays, getting recommendations, preparing for tests, applying for financial aid

College Decor

Keep college top-of-mind for students by decorating hallways and classrooms with pennants, posters, and slogans that broadcast the ultimate goal of getting into college. Consider announcing upcoming college entrance exams and test-preparation classes with flyers in bathrooms, hallways, and the cafeteria.

Career Development Programs

For many children, half of the battle is figuring out what they want to do after they graduate. This happens when students are unable to connect what they’re learning in the classroom to a career.

Consider starting an internship program or establishing after-school programs or activities that help students understand all of their options. This often falls on guidance counselors to organize. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Programs like U can B support career development through curriculum components that allow students to see what life is like after high school and college. These programs help students become aware of all the opportunities that exist and encourage them to pursue them.

Raising academic standards alone is not enough to ensure that all students, especially low-income and minority students, will graduate from high school and pursue — let alone succeed in — postsecondary education. Supports must be in place to help schools ensure that all students achieve this goal. College-bound culture inspires the best in every student and helps them identify and achieve their goals. Schools that take the steps to foster this culture put the success of their students at the forefront of their mission.