Create a College-going Culture in Our Elementary School

Create a College-going Culture in Our Elementary School

The National Association of Elementary School Principals suggests elementary school administrators repeatedly ask themselves, "How can I inspire my students to go to college?"

Students in elementary school are never too young to be exposed to the idea of college. Those who get this exposure are more likely to see college as an achievable goal. You and the rest of the staff at your school can help your students learn about and strive for college degrees.

Use these steps to create a college-going culture in your elementary school:

  • Schedule meetings with the administrators from my school district's other elementary, middle, and high schools.
    Staying connected with other administrators can help your school and your entire district adopt a consistent college-going culture. Holding a meeting a least once a month gives administrators the opportunity to talk about new ideas and develop district-wide college-going programs.

    Note: Keeping an open mind and listening is important. Even when people have the same goals, they often have different plans to reach them. Make your meetings a collaborative effort so all individuals involved feel as though their opinions are valued.


  • Require teachers and counselors at my school to attend mandatory professional development courses.
    Your school staff can lead by example by showing students that learning is a lifelong process by continuing their own educations. Professional development for teachers and counselors should be mandatory at least a few times each quarter at your school. Teachers and counselors who continue their education know more about technology and current education issues.

  • Talk to my students about college every day.
    When teachers discuss college, students are exposed to the idea of college. Talking about college every day in lessons or in normal conversation helps students think about college every day—which is the goal of a college-going culture. Also, when you describe your own personal college experiences, students learn what to expect when they go to college.

    Warning: The College Board warns that even good-intentioned college-going programs can negatively impact the school if the school staff does not share a common goal. Be sure your school's staff supports your school's college-going culture. You can bring together your school's staff by discussing how a college-going culture positively impacts schools, staff members, and (most importantly) students.


  • Create visual displays of college culture in my school.
    Schools with college-going cultures should remind students about college every day. By adding college-related posters, pennants, fliers, and newsletters to the halls and classrooms of your school, you will remind your students about college, and you might even interest them in particular colleges. Encourage students to get involved in the decorating. For example, have art students create college-themed posters to hang throughout the school.

  • Schedule after-school meetings with parents to explain and develop our school's college-going culture.
    Schools with strong college-going cultures involve the staff, students, and parents in the process. Getting your students' parents involved can bring fresh ideas and more volunteers. By enlisting the help of parents, you'll show the students your school is serious about them attending college.

    Note: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, parents are more likely to attend school events that include teacher-parent interaction. To get parents to attend college-going culture events, consider involving as many teachers as possible.


  • Ask the students at my school to pledge to attend college.
    Some schools with college-going cultures have their students recite a short pledge stating they will work hard in school and attend college. By having the kids in your school make a similar pledge, you'll be reminding them that college should be their ultimate goal and that working hard in elementary, middle, and high school will help them get there.

  • Hold college-related events at my school.
    A college-related event could take many forms, including inviting college students or professors to speak at your school, taking your students to visit a college, asking staff and students to wear clothing from their favorite colleges, and so on. By completing an activity at least once a month, you'll remind your school's staff and students that your school is serious about college.

  • Schedule an activity that unites the students at my school with students in my district's middle and high schools.
    Consider inviting high school students who've applied to college to speak to your students about why they want to attend college. You could also invite middle school students to play educational games with your students. Allowing students from different schools to interact will help your students better understand what their educational future looks like. Plus, the older students will get to see how far they've come. These activities also help to create a consistent college-going culture throughout your district, which helps to ensure your students are exposed to a college-going culture throughout middle and high school.