Entries tagged with “high school”.

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

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

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: http://www.jff.org/

If you are interested in the research on college guidance and the future implications of helping students achieve college, access this article in the 2008 Review of Higher Education Journal on the role of college counseling in shaping college opportunity. I was most surprised to find that at over half of the schools they studied, the number of students per counselor was greater than 400 to 1! Even 3 of the 5 high resource schools they studied had greater than 400 students for every one counselor. This is well above the 100:1 recommended ratio from the American School Counselor Association and a problem that needs to be addressed in innovative ways.

The abstract for this article is: “This study draws on data from descriptive case studies of 15 high schools, three in each of five states. The findings highlight constraints in the availability of college counseling, differences in the availability of college counseling across schools, and the influence of schools, districts, higher education institutions, and states on the availability and nature of college counseling. The study suggests that, in the context of limited fiscal and other resources, changes in federal and state financial aid policies, district policies pertaining to counseling, and relationships with higher education institutions will help ensure that all students receive sufficient college counseling.”

The citation is: Perna, L. W., Rowan-Kenyon, H., Thomas, S. L., Bell, A., Anderson, R., & Li, C. (2008). The role of college counseling in shaping college opportunity: Variations across high schools. Review of Higher Education. 31(2), 131-159.

I spent two weekends in June helping with a couple of leadership retreat type conferences for high school students. I was the closing speaker for both the HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth Program) conference in Madison, Wisconsin as well as WILS, the Wisconsin Leadership Seminar, which is held in Milwaukee. I made it through the Wisconsin flooding to be with amazing groups of high school students each weekend. I’ve been helping with conference such as these for a handful of years and they are always very powerful experiences for the students, if not the most powerful experience they have had in their life up to that point. They leave visibly changed. Here are some key elements that may make the experience so powerful for the students.

For many students it could be their first leadership learning experience. It could be their first retreat. It could be their first time in residence at a college. It could be their first formal experience to learn about themselves. Our first experiences are often times our most impacting.

Early Start.
It looks like leadership development can be provided to students younger and younger. The students at these conferences just finished their sophomore year of high school. It seems like the time is ripe for them to start discovering themselves and their leadership. After all, they will be applying to college soon and a conference or experience like this could help them with that process and thinking about their future. Perhaps students can even start younger with leadership retreats such as these.

New Peers.
The students arrive as the only student from their high school. They meet other students from similar situations…being their school’s ambassador. It can be powerful to leave your normal peer group to be amongst new peers, especially peers interested in and willing to engage in a leadership conference.

Experience Leadership.
It is experiential. Students do service projects, group projects, and other kinds of projects. They are learning about leadership and themselves through doing it with new people. Though there are a lot of panels where the students sit back and listen to people practicing leadership, the experiences they practice for themselves may be key for them. The students also are very willing to experience. They will be eager to do almost any new experience or activity you ask of them.

Small Groups.
Students are a part of a small group. Through this group they are able to see how new groups can form and lead together through actually experiencing it. For many of these students it is more engaging and easier to share with one another in this small group format.

Crazy might be a close relative of creativity or courage. Students are not only allowed but encouraged to get a little crazy. They use their creativity and energy in full force. The cheers resonate through the whole weekend of the conference. Students can try out new actions and display their talents. A major focus is on being yourself and coming out of your shell.

Key Questions.
At the stage of leadership development the students are at, I’m proposing that they should be encountering self discovery and the diversity of experiences that allow for that self discovery to occur. From reflection on the experiences they have had students can begin to look inward and answer some key questions. I believe that these are key questions for students to start thinking about:
What are my most meaningful experiences?
What are my strengths?
What are my interests?
What are my values?
What new experiences should I gain to learn more about myself?

I have heard over and over again from participants how much their experience with HOBY, WILS, or other first leadership retreats had meant to their life…even 10 years later. I wish I would have had the opportunity to participate in something like this as a high school student before preparing for college application. In conclusion, I believe that we can use many more of these weekend leadership retreats for high school students. The impact seems to be so high at the right time for the students. States, schools, and various programs could certainly offer similar experiences to impact students leadership development and get them on the right track for thinking about college and their future.

Author: Darin Eich, Ph.D.