Entries tagged with “Middle 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

A recent Phi Delta Kappa Kappan magazine published an article entitled “From the Mouths of Middle-Schoolers: Important Changes for High School and College,” in which the author William J. Bushaw addresses an optimistic outlook that middleschoolers have when entering high school in terms of their college aspirations. According to the study findings, conducted by Harris Poll Online database, 92% of middleschoolers expect to go on to college but 68% of them feel that they do not have adequate information on what courses to take in high school to get ready for college. Additionally, majority of students polled feel that the cost of higher education might prevent them from accessing college even if they meet academic requirements.

Although 1.4 million students are taking AP exams according to the 2001 U.S. Department of Education data, majority of these students come from middle and upper socio-economic classes. This data closely relates to another DOE finding, which shows that only 28% of our poorest students attend four-year institutions versus 66% of our richest students. Further, according to the College Board 2005 report Trends in College Pricing, the net price for public four-year institutions is now around $10,000 and the net price tag for private four-year institutions is now hovering at $19,400. Yet, as College Board data show, Pell Grants and other financial aid sources have been on a steady decline since the late 1970s.

With these troubling findings, it is no wonder that low-income students find academic readiness, financial resources, and access to information as the core barriers to their college attainment. As school counselors, staff, and teachers, we have a responsibility to focus our attention on these core barriers by ensuring that all our incoming high school freshmen get access to college prep courses and information on how to look for colleges, aid with college application process, and hold informational sessions with both parents and students on financing higher education. Further, as higher education professionals, we have a responsibility to work with our high schools to ensure that our standards and expectations are aligned, thus, potentially reducing the ever so growing need for remedial education. Finally, we all need to press our policymakers to reform the higher education financial structure, because it has been proven to be inefficient and inadequate for the majority of students who need financial aid. As we look forward into the future of college access, we should be able to tell our 92% of middleschoolers with college aspirations that they can indeed reach their goal.

Author: Helen Janc Malone