Promoting Success Beyond High School

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Parents have higher educational aspirations for their children than ever before: 86 percent of parents want their children to pursue some postsecondary education1.
Young people themselves share these high aspirations. The National Education Longitudinal Study, which followed a nationally representative sample of 8th grade students beginning in 1988, found that 88 percent of 8th graders expected to participate in some form of postsecondary education right after high school.2
While many had the desire, far less actually enrolled and even fewer graduated from college. Twelve years later, the study found that 63 percent of these students had attended some type of postsecondary institution following high school,3 47 percent had earned some college credits, and 30 percent had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.4

Many of these young people fail to realize their aspirations because the process of preparing for life after high school is often a mystery to them. Making matters worse is our current system of college advising. K-12 educators cite a number of problems with our preparation system including inadequate college resources and materials, inequitable college advising by counselors and teachers, inequitable college preparatory curricula, and a general lack of teacher knowledge of college preparation issues.5

American youth need to have not only access to postsecondary education and training but also the knowledge and skills necessary to continue their education beyond high school. Studies examining the benefits of postsecondary education have concluded that education beyond high school increases earning potential and employment opportunities.6 There are many valuable options available to students for education and training beyond high school, including programs that lead to apprenticeships and certificate, associate, and bachelor degree options.  These college transition programs counsel students about the types of high school courses that prepare them for college-level work, the college application process, the required entrance assessments like the SAT or ACT, and the steps in applying for student aid.

The Need is Great

The primary goal of college transition programs is to provide students with early awareness of the benefits of continuing their education by enrolling in college. These programs encourage students to think about college, and at the same time provide the academic and other support services students need to enter college. Sometimes referred to as “early intervention programs,” services range from academic tutoring, to college application assistance, to help in accessing student aid.

Range of Services

The nature and content of college transition programs vary widely. Some programs offer minimal academic counseling while more comprehensive programs offer a broad array of intensive college preparatory services. Comprehensive programs typically provide the following services:

  • Academic enrichment activities that enhance the curriculum including tutoring, summer school, after-school programs, and extra coursework;
  • Information sharing to educate students and parents about college options, testing and admission requirements, financial aid procedures, and campus life;
  • Mentoring by a peer or adult that provides educational and social support; and
  • Social enrichment activities that provide students with the opportunity to learn leadership skills, set-goals, visit college campuses, and explore the arts.