Jacques Steinberg’s article “For Hire for Hundreds of Dollars, or Thousands, Independent Counselors Proliferate” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/education/19counselor.html?_r=1 describes the booming market produced by prospective students and their families, who are interested in creating more competitive college applications for admission at highly selective colleges and universities. 

The article does not address a much more important problem in U.S. college admissions.  In our public high schools, there are not enough college counselors to help students navigate to college. While the National Association of College Admissions Counselors recommends a ratio of 100 students per counselor, in practice, the average student to counselor ratio in United States public high schools is 478:1 (NACAC, 2004).   Compounding the problem, these counselors spend an average of only 39% of their time on college advising. For most students, the K-12 college counseling system lacks the capacity to complete a college education.

 In addition to our schools’ counseling capacity issue, many students do not have social structures to support their pursuit of college.  In fact, there is a tragic loss of talent among those students who are academically qualified to attend college and whose families are in the bottom quartile of family income.   Approximately 50% of these students do not complete one college application (Carnevale & Rose, 2003, Plank & Jordan, 1998).

Rather than focus on the controversial fortunes of a few high priced independent counselors and their privileged students, we should look for ways to provide more assistance to qualified students, who might not effectively complete the college application process due to the current shortage of social and institutional support.

www.throughcollege.com

ThroughCollege is a free service that helps students use t he college admissions process to develop the knowledge and skills to get in and through a peak college experience

For a limited time schools and students with need can subscribe to the ThroughCollege system for free. This is an $80 value per student.

The ThroughCollege System helps individual students find, apply to, and succeed at their best-fit college. The 4 Steps of the ThroughCollege System are a series of innovative and engaging activities students can do on their own or with a mentor.

If you are a student (9th-11th grade) or family who can’t spend an extra $80 on college preparation right now, just email us a short email about why it is important for you to discover yourself and your future, find, apply to, and succeed at the best college for you. Why do you want to discover who you are and what you can do with your life? Why is this process important to you? We will email you a code and you can subscribe to the ThroughCollege system for free. This means downloading and doing all of the activities to help you figure your college future out. Do them on your own but do them best with a mentor, peer, or family member.

If you are a middle or high school that doesn’t have the resources to implement a system to help students prepare for college please send us an email about how something like this could benefit you as well as how you can help to assess and enhance the system of activities and we can provide you with a code to distribute to students to access the system at no cost.

Email the ThroughCollege team at info@throughcollege.com. Email soon because this will only be available for a limited time to students and schools with limited resources and high commitment.

Check out the ThroughCollege System at http://www.throughcollege.com

Education Week reported on January 14, 2009 that the National Governors Association (NGA), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and the National Association of State Board of Education have released a new report calling for an action agenda for improving high schools. While SAT and GPA scores are important, the report notes a variety of additional 21st century skills that are necessary to succeed in higher education. Due to the growing human capital needs that also require soft skills, the report calls for a close higher education/high school standards alignment, course rigor, and investment in early-college and virtual studies. To read the full report visit: http://www.nga.org/Files/pdf/0901IMPROVEHIGHSCHOOLS.PDF

ThroughCollege and the Greater Beloit, WI Help Yourself Programs are now working together to help students from 145 families (4th-12th graders) with preparation, admission, and success in post-secondary education programs.

What are Help Yourself Programs?
The Help Yourself Programs (HYSP) are a Beloit College community outreach
initiative for youth in the Greater Beloit area. The initiative is comprised of a set of
unique, comprehensive academic and cultural enrichment programs and
educational support services to supplement the curriculum in public and
private schools.

Objective of the Programs:
The main objective is to intervene early in the academic lives of
disadvantaged youth by empowering them with the basic tools they need to
enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

PRE-COLLEGIATE PROGRAM
The Pre-Collegiate program was the first of Beloit College community
outreach programs; it began in 1986 to provide high school students with
educational opportunities designed to prepare them for college. The program
emphasizes the development of critical and analytical thinking skills in the
core academic areas: Science, Math and English, and the integration of these
skills with cultural and artistic experiences.

On December 8th, 2008, The Gates Foundation announced a new initiative focused on helping low-income colleges students complete their studies. The focus is on getting youth to and through college. In addition to the student funding, Gates has also granted MDRC to serve as an evaluator of the Performance-Based Scholarship Demonstration initially piloted in Louisiana. Read more at: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/press-releases/Pages/low-income-postsecondary-degree-081209.aspx

A new report from the Data Quality Campaign notes the need for longitudinal research in order to track student progress in college prep programs. In particular, the report focuses on several core questions schools should focus on in regard to their prep courses. Available at http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/publications-dqc_college_prep_courses-101308.pdf

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a change in their grant-making strategy, adding more resources toward two core tracks – College Readiness for High School Students and Life Beyond High School. Both programs serve to support all students’ college prep from middle school years to and through college. For more information, including Gates’ speeches, education plans, visit: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/united-states/Pages/united-states-education-strategy.aspx

This seminal report, published earlier this week, tracks progress of Latino families and their access to higher education over the last thirty years. The report indicates widening disparities in family income, declines in relative participation of Latino males in American colleges, declines in first choice college attendance, and rising concerns about financing college. However, the report also note that despite these barriers to access, Latino/a population remain passionate about education, have a strong drive towards post-secondary success, and have remained committed to strong values and career-oriented goals. To learn more, visit http://www.heriucla.edu

NCAN has announced this week its 2008 Awards of Excellence, which include: Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Champion of College Access Award; Ohio College Access Network, College Access Organization Award of Excellence, Virginia Donohue, Executive Director of On Point in College in Syracuse, New York for the Executive Leadership Award of Excellence. Congratulations to all the winners!

The Education Commission of the States has just come out with a new policy brief addressing early college high schools, how they differ from traditional dual enrollment programs, provide research to support the positive impact these models have on student learning, and to set forth state policy standards to fund and support early college opportunities. To learn more visit: http://www.ecs.org

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