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Supporting a College-Going Culture

Inspire the best in every student

A college education provides a life of options, rather than of limitations. Provide your students with these opportunities by making your high school 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.

A college-going culture helps all students set and achieve high goals and generates other important values:

  • Appreciation of academics
  • Desire to succeed
  • Drive to attend college and become a lifelong learner

These values are especially important for students who may not be considering college, including:

  • Low-achieving students
  • Students from middle- to low-income families
  • Underrepresented minorities
  • Students from families in which no one has attended college before

Encourage academic excellence

Educators in college-going cultures send strong consistent messages that every student is college material. One way to do this is to encourage all students to enroll in college-preparatory courses.

It's never too early to begin building a rigorous academic structure. The introduction to challenging course work must begin at the middle school level for students to have the best chance of success in college.

Ten steps you can take at your school

  1. Dedicate part of the counseling office to college resources, with information on scholarships, financial aid, applications and specific colleges.
  2. Schedule frequent conferences with each student individually (regardless of academic level) to monitor future plans.
  3. Lead group sessions on college-related issues such as writing essays, getting recommendations, preparing for tests, applying for financial aid and planning for careers.
  4. Repeat these sessions as parent nights, using translators if necessary.
  5. Engage parents by providing knowledge and debunking myths about available college-related options.
  6. Hold a majors and career day, presenting different areas of study, career paths and employment forecasts for graduates.
  7. Host a college fair with representatives from a variety of educational institutions: local community colleges, technical schools, large public universities and smaller private liberal arts colleges.
  8. Distribute a newsletter to students and parents detailing relevant and timely college information.
  9. Create a college-of-the-week profile, complete with pictures, for circulation.
  10. Celebrate successes:
    • Compile a graduate directory of alumni and the colleges they attended.
    • Announce student acceptances publicly.
    • Invite local college graduates to speak.