Create a College-going Culture in Our High School
According to the College Board, a school with a college-going culture is "a place where college is the next step for everyone. When students have school, parental, and community support, college is seen as the norm: higher education is the expectation rather than the exception."
In a college-going culture, everything about an environment and staff promotes the idea of students pursuing postsecondary education. Although high schools have been promoting college to their students for decades, college-going culture starts early and permeates every day and every aspect of the school and/or the community. Schools that provide a college-going culture ensure that all students have access to the curriculum and resources they need to succeed in college.
Follow these steps to create a college-going culture in your high school:
Pair students with a professional who monitors their progress toward college.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) suggests that every high school student have a Personal Adult Advocate to help them navigate their path to college. "These advocates can be teachers, counselors, principals, or other school staff who are committed to monitoring students’ academic progress and social development and guiding them through the educational planning process." Schedule a meeting to plan how to implement this at your school, and create a plan to carry this out.
Ask teachers to include a reference to college in every class period.
Talking about college with your students is a great way to support a college-going culture. When you talk about college with students, they can’t help but imagine their futures. Teachers can talk about their own experiences in college or present a lesson that analyzes populations on a college campus. Teachers don't have to limit themselves to verbally mentioning college. They can wear a shirt that supports their favorite college team or hang a poster that advertises a play put on by a local college's drama club.
Host a workshop for parents and students and debunk myths about financial aid.
Many parents and students believe the myths they've heard about financial aid: that the cost of college is astronomical, the financial aid repayment plan is impossible to keep up with, and that applying for financial aid is too complicated for the average family. Prior to the workshop, ask parents to submit financial aid questions, and then be prepared to answer them.
Tip: Ask other administrators and teachers to research scholarships and grants at their alma maters and then present them at the workshop.
Tip: Introduce parents to the FAFSA4caster. This online tool helps parents and students predict how much financial aid they'll likely qualify for. The site, maintained by the U.S. Department of Education, provides many resources for teaching parents about financial aid.
Call a college to request information and promotional materials for our students.
The more teens know about their options, the better choices they can make. Some colleges will send you posters. Others may send you complimentary t-shirts and gifts. Create a prize closet for the gifts to reward students who help cultivate a college-going culture.
Offer a college-planning workshop for parents as part of orientation.
Jamie Merisotis, founder of the Institute for Higher Education Policy and the president and CEO of Lumina Foundation for Education, explains that schools must reach out to parents to explain which courses are necessary for college and why it is important to plan for college early. Merisotis says that “information about college options should be a standard part of any life skills curriculum taught in middle and high school, and schools should offer college-planning workshops to parents well before students begin the application process."
Host monthly professional development workshops at our school.
In successful college-going cultures, faculty is informed and active in promoting college readiness. In their resource guide, "Creating a College Going Culture," Melissa Friedman MacDonald and Aimée Dorr, recommend that all teachers have access to professional development regarding college-going culture. These development workshops should focus on college-prep curriculum, ways to engage all students in the college-going culture, and elevating teachers' expectations of student success.
Host a college going culture discussion for all of Jackson Co.
Organize party for students who are going to college
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