High School Plans for College Readiness

This month, we have presented how schools can help students prepare for college. We also provided a few tips on how students can prepare academically, socially, and financially. But what exact measures can students take especially during high school?

We understand that all of the information can feel a bit overwhelming. Do not worry! Here is a simple four-year checklist that you can share with all high schools students from freshmen to seniors:

In addition, we recommend introducing your students to KnowHow2Go for advice, college success stories, campus tours, and a college quiz!

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on Academic Preparation for College Readiness!

Avoiding Student Debt

As of 2018 stats, “Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers.”

The looming, dark cloud over higher education in the U.S. is, of course, student debt which is why we are focusing on this World Future Forum topic during the spooky month of October. In this blog post, we will present some tips on how your students can avoid student debt even before starting their higher education. Conversely, this means trying to spend the least amount of money possible.

To help your students, you should help them understand that they need to:

  1. Excel in high school: This means your students should try their hardest to get the best grades in their everyday courses as well as their college entrance exams, SAT/ACT. The higher their grades, the more likely a school will want them and offer money. If their grades are not the best, they should look into getting tutored by another student or teacher. Tutoring is a great way for you to go the extra mile and really help your student avoid debt in the future. Another important fact, is that universities want well-rounded students. It looks great when a student is involved in clubs and activities that show they are committed and can work well with others. Skills developed during extracurricular activities, such as sports and academic skills, can also yield to scholarships. It is crucial your students understand high school as an opportunity for their future.
  2. Enroll in free college courses: Many times, students do not realize that by “saving the hassle” and not taking advanced courses in high school, they are missing out on a great opportunity.  Advanced Placement, dual enrollment and summer courses provided by universities and high schools are the perfect way to save money. Students are able to take courses that will be required in college for free! Another suggestion you can give students that already know what they want to study, is to look into programs in their desired majors at local universities that also offer college credit.
  3. Focus on in-state schools: Are your students aware that the yearly tuition for a four-year out-of-state public school is around $25,600 and approximately $34,700 for a private school while an in-state public school is about $9,500? That is a big difference. While moving to a completely different state or traveling cross-country can be tempting for your students, it is important to persuade them to reconsider. They might be underestimating the amount of student debt they can potentially get themselves into. If they make time to compare school costs and quality of education, they will more than likely realize that in-state schools are more convenient.
  4. Consider different living situations: Another positive aspect about attending an in-state school is that students might be able to live at home and save money on rent. Let’s be honest, the first reason many students want to go to an out-of-state school is to become independent of their parents; however, they do not realize that living in dorms is not always the cheapest option. Living in a dorm can easily add $11,000 to a yearly tuition. If living at home is not possible and dorms are too expensive, you should ask your students to consider renting an apartment with a couple of friends. Usually, living off-campus is cheaper and investing in a bike can save your students from time consuming walks or spending money on vehicle expenses.
  5. Contemplate working part time: Usually, students are not thinking about working during their higher education either because they want to focus on school or they do not want to worry about a job until after their college graduation. However, working, at least, a part-time job while going to school can pay for some of their schooling so they do not have student debt or at least helps minimize any debt. A bonus to having a job while attending a university, is that it look great on resumes when they start applying for “real” jobs. It shows students are responsible and have good time management skills.
  6. Try to steer clear of private loans: As opposed to federal student loans, private student loans do not have a limit on how much students can borrow each year. Private loans are a slippery slope, and it can be very easy for students to go in over their head and end up in massive student debt. Additionally, private student loans have higher interest rates and do not offer accommodation repayment plans for students who struggle to keep up with their payments.

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on student debt!

Promote College Persistence

College persistence is when a student continues attending any university or college after their freshman year. It is not to be confused with college retention, which applies to students returning to the same university to continue higher education. These two ideas are measured differently since persistence depends on the student’s motivation whereas retention depends more on the institution’s efforts to keep the student.

So, how can we motivate students to stay persistent during their college career?

  1. Encouraging students to take high level courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP), dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment courses during high school helps them know what to expect in a more rigorous environment. If a student feels prepared to take on their college courses, they will be more likely to continue their higher education.
  2. Arranging visits to local campuses is a simple task that high schools can do to motivate students. Regardless on interest in the local campus, visiting a university can help the students figure out what they would like to see in their future university, whether it is class size, location of the campus, amount of diversity, student organization, activities for students outside the classroom, or campus housing.
  3. Academic advising is a tool that most students do not take advantage of; however, more and more universities are now starting to implement mandatory advising in their curriculum to increase student persistence rates. Attending advising sessions, in high school and college, motivates students to set goals while the advisor provides resources to help them attain these goals. This provides a student with a meaningful goal to work towards even during tough times.
  4. If a university focuses on increasing awareness of resources for students before or right at the beginning of their freshman year, students will know where to receive assistance and not feel like they are alone. Common resources that most universities offer include computer labs designed for financial aid processes, support clubs and organizations to bring students together, tutoring and remedial courses for core subjects, and student success courses or workshops to improve time management and study skills.
  5. Many times, students feel like their college courses did not fully prepare them for their desired career fields. Focusing on connecting the skills learned in each course to post-secondary life can give students a sense of direction and inspire them to continue their education. Providing opportunities for students to obtain internships, conduct their own research, and volunteer in their future professions can be very beneficial and comforting.

Join us at World Future Forum for research findings and best practices in college transition and persistence!

First-Generation College Students

High school graduates’ transitions to college can be very difficult–especially for first generation students. A first-generation student is a student whose parents or guardians have not completed a bachelor’s degree. They are, essentially, the first person in their immediate family to attend a four-year college or university.

According to the First-Generation Foundation, 50 percent of college students in 2010 were first-generation students. However, only a small percentage of these students actually graduate with a bachelor’s degree. This foundation provides many useful tools to motivate first-generation students to stay persistent and graduate.

Danielle Moss Lee, CEO of YWCA in New York, created the following Power List for high school administrators and educators to motivate all future first-generation college students to graduate.

  • Early and Frequent College Exposure – take your students to the local college or university to familiarize them with that environment and/or open communication on the subject.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? – ask students “Who do you want to be when you grow up” instead so they can start focusing on becoming that person first and then realize what career path they want to pursue based on that.
  • College match, match, match! – help students look at colleges that not only match them for academic reasons, but also match how comfortable the student will feel attending (campus life, culture, location and size).
  • Money and status – encourage your students and their families to start looking at scholarship opportunities as soon as possible and know immigration status of your students so they are prepared for any processes vital to obtaining financial aid.
  • Sharing stories – bring current first-generation students and their families into the classroom to share their experiences and provide comfort for students and families who will later be going through a similar experience.

To read more on this list, click here.

Join us at World Future Forum for research findings and best practices in college transition and persistence!