Center for Student Opportunity has released in the early October a new “College Access & Opportunities Guide” designed to provide a comprehensive guide to first-generation college students. Developed in collaboration with KnowHow2GO, the guide offers financial aid assistance, college program ideas, information about the application process, and critical considerations students need to account for in their college prep. The guide also provides practical questions students should discuss with their guidance counselor and mentors. To learn more, visit

The U.S. Department of Education has launched designed to inform students and parents about the college access process. The web addresses issues on why to go, what to do to prepare, and how to pay for higher education. It allows students to create their own customized college road map and provides helpful links that support families and schools in the process. For more information, visit

A new powerful documentary on first generation college students is a must see. The documentary follows six Philadelphia inner city students on their path to college. For more information, visit

In addition, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform has published a report “Building College Pathways Takes a Village” that tracks the difficulties of getting to and through college, by assessing the Philadelphia schools on several dimensions: education and academic support; mentoring and social supports; competent organizations and programs; financial assistance; and neighborhood leadership. To read the report, visit

A new report by Child Trends addresses competencies students need to succeed in college and in the workplace. The report addresses physical, psychological, social, cognitive, and spiritual development, and stresses the importance of meeting the needs of special populations. The report recommends that: (a) college readiness criteria be expanded to include risk and prevention, as well as social, moral, and ethic competences; (b) workforce criteria be expanded to positive mental health, social support, and reasoning skills. To read the full report, visit

You might not be inclined to read the entire 431 pages of the legislation, but the passage of the Act provides a new, significant chapter in American higher education system.

  • Changes in student aid: Increase of the max Pell Grant to $8,000 by 2014; up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness for teachers willing to teach in high-need areas; further support for TRIO and GEAR UP programs; and simplification of FAFSA form
  • Proposal for decrease in tuition costs: requiring reports to the Secretary of Education outlining tuition, graduation rates, and mapping out ways to keep the costs down
  • Decrease in textbook cost burden and use of online technology to curb the costs
  • Changes in teacher education: integration of technology in teacher training to help low-income and students with disabilities new ways to access content, get support, and prepare for college

We have all heard the reports that remedial education is on the rise, statements some attribute to inadequate high school preparation of students that leads to students’ inability to successfully enroll into 101 courses. Others have noted that remedial education serves to help students from low quality schools gain equal footing in the classroom and increase their chances of success in college. What is less addressed is the way remedial education actually works. Remedial courses, for the most part, do not provide academic credits, are not covered under FAFSA and other aid packages, and tend to be expensive. Community colleges, the Alliance for Excellent Education notes, spend $1.4 billion each year on remedial courses, which is often funded by taxpayers money. Yet, research appears to show that remedial education does not necessarily increase the rates of coursework completion or college graduation among the students to who seek such services. Thus, as ACT notes, perhaps we need to invest that money in our public high schools to make sure students who are college bound do have enough preparation to survive their first year of coursework. To read a recent article on this issue visit:

A new Jobs for the Future report reiterates the disparity in college retention rates and points to ways dual enrollment systems can benefit students, allowing them to earn college credits while in high school and helping them transition smoothly into higher education. Why dual enrollment might work? Recent polls show that only 29 percent of community college students attain a degree, only 56 percent in four-year institutions, and only 11 percent of low-income students attain diplomas. Although dual enrollments are available to an increasing number of students, majority minority schools continue to lack this option, which plays into the issues of access and equity. Yet, the report notes, dual enrollment stands to benefit students who are least likely to consider college or be college bound, by challenging them intellectually, stimulating their thinking in new ways, and presenting students with an opportunity to get a taste of college. Visit:

Pennsylvania Governor provides grants for college and career counseling. The new $3 million grants will help 33,000 students in 19 school districts receive postsecondary planning assistance. To read more visit this State of Pennsylvania page.

Historically K-12 and higher education systems have operated in silos, often disconnected from realities students face when transitioning from one system to another. However, in the last few years (primarily since 2005), there has been a push by 38 states to form P-16 or P-20 councils of high-level leaders to align standards and expectations. In times when only 70 percent of high school students graduate within four years, growing dropout rates, and low college retention rates, the need for collaboration is both necessary and timely. Moving forward, the councils should expand beyond the goal setting, advisory roles and engage in actual reforms and accountability structures that will ensure the vision of the councils is realized. To learn more visit Ed Week.

2008 being an election year opens doors for higher education policy reconsiderations. AASCU, one of the most prominent higher education association has recently released a list of top ten issues that need to be address in the policy realm:
1.    Affordability
2.    States’ fiscal forecasts
3.    College preparation
4.    Campus security
5.    Immigration
6.    Presidential election
7.    Affirmative action
8.    Retooling financial aid
9.    Economic development
The presence of college preparation near the top of the list suggests the importance of linking and aligning higher and secondary education systems and increasing the level of rigor all students get in high schools in order to be college ready. To learn more visit

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