College Preparedness

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Today’s students face a world influenced by a global economy, technological advances and rapid changes in the way we share information, communicate and conduct business. It has never been more critical to help them build the knowledge, skills, behaviors and awareness necessary to succeed in college and beyond. Improving postsecondary success for all our citizens, but most urgently for low-income and minority students, is vital to our nation’s economic and social health, and global competitiveness. Yet, college remediation and completion rates suggest that many students leave high school without the skills and knowledge required to succeed in postsecondary education. (media.collegeboard.com/Feb.26,2013) College today means much more than just pursuing a four- year degree at a university. Being “college-ready” means being prepared for any postsecondary education or training experience, including study at two- and four-year institutions leading to a postsecondary credential (i.e. a certificate, license, Associates or Bachelor’s degree). Being ready for college means that a high school graduate has the English and mathematics knowledge and skills necessary to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses without the need for remedial coursework. Although students have ambitious educational and career aspirations, many lack basic information about how to fulfill their postsecondary goals. Many students and their parents fail to plan because they do not have the essential information resources, personal support networks, and structured programs they need to effectively perform educational and postsecondary planning activities (Cabrera & La Nasa, 2000; Hrabowski et al., 1998; McDonough, 1997). Some students and their parents have a vague understanding or hold misconceptions about high school course requirements for college admission, the importance of teachers in college planning, and college tuition costs (Choy, Horn, Nuñez, & Chen, 2000; Hrabowski, Maton, Greene, & Greif, 2002; Schneider & Stevenson, 1999; Venezia et al., 2003). (www.aypf.org/ Feb. 27,2013) There are multiple steps that students and their parents can take to successfully plan for postsecondary education and become college ready. These steps build upon one another to help students make the transition from secondary to postsecondary education and training (McDonough, 1997). The early stages of postsecondary planning can include, but are not limited to: 1) Considering postsecondary education, 2) Deciding to attend college, 3) Maintaining good grades, 4) Gathering information about the college admissions process (including college admissions tests), 5) Discussing educational and career goals with counselors, teachers, and parents, 6) Obtaining information about colleges and academic programs, 7) Obtaining information about financial aid opportunities, and 8) Exploring college major and career interests. (www.act.org/Feb. 27,2013) Schools should provide the tools, information, and resources to guide students and their parents through the postsecondary planning process and make successful educational transitions. And it is important for schools to initiate this planning process by the middle school years. This early educational planning can guide students’ experiences in middle and high school and help them make informed educational decisions. A key aspect of early educational planning involves the exploration of educational and work options. Students have many postsecondary choices, including two-year colleges, certificate programs, four-year colleges, the military, and employment. They often begin taking steps to make their educational goals a reality by taking college preparatory courses, maintaining good grades in these courses, participating in extracurricular activities, and learning about ways to finance postsecondary education (Cabrera & La Nasa, 2000). And they may regularly engage in conversations about their futures with their...
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