Working Systemwide to Raise Students* College Aspirations

Working Systemwide to Raise
Students’ College Aspirations
Dr. Carolyn Berger & Dr. Eric Thompson
Nova Southeastern University
• Creating a College-Going Culture:
• What is a “College-Going Culture” and why is it important?
• Assess Your School’s CGC
• Review of Ecological Systems Theory
• Systems to Consider when Developing Interventions
• Interventions for Raising College Aspirations & Tips for
• Discussion & Questions
College Aspirations &
Creating a College-Going Culture
• College and career aspirations are both valid and important
• This presentation focuses on college aspirations; including post
secondary vocational programs, community colleges, and traditional
four year programs
• College-going culture “refers to the environment, attitudes, and
practices in schools and communities that encourage students and
their families to obtain the information, tools, and perspective to
enhance access to and success in post-secondary education.”
Advancing college going culture
• Exploration of future options after high school begin as early as
elementary school
• Diversity-schools convey expectations that all students can prepare
for success in post-secondary education
What is a college going culture?
College going cultures are likely to exist in schools where:
• Students are expected to achieve high academic standards in a college
preparatory curriculum
• The school staff is collectively committed to students’ college goals
• College is a visual reality
• Informal and formal communication networks promote and support college
• Commitment from school administration and leadership
• All stakeholders have a significant role in promoting post secondary expectations
in students
• A dedication to partnering with internal (administration, teachers, etc) and
external stakeholders (families, community members ,etc)
Why have a college going culture?
• Builds expectation of postsecondary education for all students,
regardless of background
• A person with a high school diploma earns on average $507 per week
• A person with a bachelor’s degree earns $983 on average
• A person with a master’s and Ph.D. earn $1,174 and $1,214 per week
• College education reduces likelihood of unemployment
• Community colleges are generally affordable and do not require an
extensive application process.
Why have college-going culture?
• Simply graduating high school is a challenge for a majority of students
let alone going to college
• 18% of students who graduate from high school go on to earn an
associates degree
• Students at risk for not attending post secondary schooling include
Low achievers
Mid-low income individuals
Underrepresented minorities
Disabled youth
First generation college students!.aspx
At risk students
• More likely to face obstacles to college planning
• Have less access to information and guidance
• Have lowered expectations from mentors and hence lower
college/career exploration
• Less internet access
• Lack of financial resources to attend college
• How do we make our school and community one where all students
are expected to attend college?
College focused schools
• Expect that all underserved students are capable of being prepared to
enroll and succeed in college
• Provide a range of high-quality, college-preparatory tools for students and
• Embrace social, cultural, and varied learning styles when developing the
environment and activities at the school
• Involve leaders at all levels in establishing policies, programs, and practices
• Maintain sufficient financial and human resources for this mission Assess
policy, programs, and practices regularly to determine effectiveness
Assessing a school’s college going culture
1. Each student who attends this school are expected to_____
2. All counselors who work at this school are expected to_____
3. A person cannot walk down the hallways of this school without
Assess Your School’s College-Going Culture
Helpful Guide from College Board:
19 Questions to Assess CGC- EXAMPLES:
10. What is our faculty’s attitude toward
the notion that every student at our school
can succeed in college?
11. Do we emphasize college advocacy
during our hiring and evaluation practices?
12. Does our school provide leadership
13. Is academic rigor encouraged for all
14. Are students often assigned to classes
based on factors other than their potential?
15. Are we reaching parents with
information about college culture?
16. Is our school more focused on getting
students to graduate high school or getting
students to attend college?
17. Is one of our school improvement goals
related to the issue of college?
18. How often do our administrators,
counselors, and teachers
consult college professors and
administration about curricular decisions
regarding student preparation or ask for
data on the performance of graduates?
19. What do we do to promote college
information sessions?
Assess school’s current culture
• Culture shift takes between 3-5 years-be patient
Months 1-3
• Gather data on school culture
• Use needs assessments
• Form committee of diverse members
• Compile survey data
• Get administrator “buy in” by discussing data and need; discuss plans
with them
• Introduce goals to staff
• Hold parent/family discussion groups for ideas and input
Months 4-6
• Research best practices of college going schools
• Research other programs and resources
• Finalize the decision and get appropriate school board/
administrative approval
• Create a document or brochure for staff and families that provide
information about goals and activities of the committee
• Continue professional development with staff
• Inform parents/families of changes through a “college culture”
event/family night
Months 7-10
• Continue with professional development
• Seek support and provide information to parents
• Prepare resources for large scale programs
• Maintain committee and community/staff forum. Continue evaluation
and reassessment of program goals and implementation ideas.
Ecological Systems Theory
If the children and youth of a nation
are afforded opportunity to develop
their capacities to the fullest, if they
are given the knowledge to
understand the world and the
wisdom to change it, then the
prospects for the future are bright. In
contrast, a society which neglects its
children, however well it may
function in other respects, risks
eventual disorganization and demise.
– Urie Bronfenbrenner
Share with a Partner
• Thinking about Bronfenbrenner’s
model, how did systems in your life
play a role in your decision to go to
Personal messages/drives?
Messages from family?
Messages from teachers?
Sociocultural messages and expectations?
Systems to Consider when Developing
• Who are the different systems and people school counselors should
include when developing interventions?
Interventions for Raising College Aspirations &
Tips for Implementation
Set up the Physical Environment for College-Going Culture
• College admissions offices, parents/families, teachers
• Collect college materials: posters, pennants, t-shirts, pens, etc.
• Enlist volunteers to help you call/email admissions offices of colleges,
tech schools, and universities all over the country
• Work with fellow counselors to compile a list of emails for admissions
• Ask them if they would donate the above items to the school
College Day: Wear your College Gear! (and learn about
schools too!)
• Everyone at the school
• Wear t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats that represent colleges, universities, and
tech schools
• Advertise to students (no uniform day if they wear college gear)
• Make mandatory for teachers and staff (offer to supply free t-shirts
donated by universities)
• Make it a learning opportunity! Have a “scavenger hunt” where students
find students wearing college gear that meets certain criteria
• Ask community businesses to donate prizes
Sample Scavenger Hunt:
Find someone wearing college/university gear for a school that meets each of the
following descriptions. Have the person sign your sheet and write the school’s name. You
can only use each person once and each college/university once. Complete the sheet
and turn it in to Principal Smith’s office to be entered in a prize drawing!
This college or university….
Person’s name & signature
College/university name
Has a mascot that is a person of some
e.g., University of TN, Purdue, FSU,
Rutgers, etc.
Is in Florida AND has a program in
aerospace engineering
e.g., UCF, UF, FIT, UM, Embry Riddle,
Has a mascot that is neither a person
nor an animal
e.g., Ohio State, University of Miami
Is located in Tallahassee
e.g., FAMU, FSU, Keiser University,
Is considered to be in the “Ivy
e.g., Harvard, UPenn, Brown, etc.
Has a women’s lacrosse team
e.g., Eckerd, FAU, FIU, FSU, UCF, UF,
Develop a College Club at Your School
• Counselors, teachers, administrators, parents, students, community
members (grades 5+)
• Bi-weekly or monthly meetings (perhaps during lunch) for students to
discuss questions/concerns about colleges, host guest speakers, etc.
• Meeting times, members involved, equal representation
• Invite parents, teachers, community members to speak at the club
meetings on their college experience or a particular topic
• Give time for discussion and questions so students can gain from the
Create a College & Careers Center in Your School
• Connect with district resources (e.g., CTE specialists)
• Parents, students, teachers, media specialists, community members
• Create an area in your school where students know to go to find
information about careers and colleges
• Make this area warm & inviting with motivational materials
• Have a computer with important links bookmarked and readily available
• Work with media specialist & CTE contact to find materials
• Enlist parents to help set up the area
• Ask PTA for monetary support
Regular Communications Include CCR: Newsletters,
Announcements, Website, Etc.
• All school faculty/staff, administration, parents, students
• In all communications, include a college/career section, article, or
• Examples:
• Periodically have teachers showcase something exciting about their college in the
morning announcements/newscast.
• Have a College & Careers section in the newsletter that shares what’s been
happening at school in relation to CCR and share important info for parents and
students (e.g., college/scholarship/FAFSA deadlines, etc.)
• In student newspaper, have a regular article a student writes where they share about
a college or career-related experience (e.g., college tour, job shadowing, etc.)
Regular Communications by Grade Level:
Newsletter Article Ideas
• Elementary (parent newsletter):
• Share mission and vision of school with parents that has a college-centered message
• Link character ed traits to success in careers/college
• Share about elementary events that link to careers/college
• Middle:
• Highlight one local college each month and give interesting facts about the school
• Highlight careers- education/skills required, salaries, outlook, etc.
• High:
• Application deadlines, financial aid info, scholarship info, testing (ACT/SAT) info
• Showcase careers they may have never heard of
• Have alumni from that HS write about college experience
Use Website to Share CCR Information
• Counselors, teachers, administrators, parents, students, community members
• Have a college and career centered section of the school counseling program’s webpage
• Include links to local resources, information about FL schools, links to career info, etc.
• Develop and include grade-specific handbooks about college info (see sample Berkely HS
• Work with your IT coordinator/webmaster at the school to put up links
• Examples:
• Advertise that info is available at your website in newsletters, flyers sent home, etc.
College-Centered Before/After School
Workshops for Families
• Parents, teachers, administration, counselors, community members
• Conduct workshops (e.g. “College Café”) for parents before/after school
• Do a needs assessment to see what information parents would like to
have and when would be the best time to meet
• Arrange guest speakers (community members, teachers, admin) to give
a short lesson and answer questions
• Sample topics:
Mentorship Programs for Students & Families
• Students &/or parents
• Set up a mentorship program that either connects parents with alumni/upperclass parents, or
students with alumni/upperclass students (consider also elementary with middle school or middle
school with high school pairing)
• Assess need for a mentorship program
• Find volunteers to help you set it up
• Have a kick-off meeting where mentors and mentees are invited
• Have example things mentors would want to cover with their mentees (e.g., how they were able to
manage their time once in middle/high school, how they were able to get everything done in relation
to CCR, what it was like going through deciding on a college, their experience with applying for
financial aid, discussing stress/anxiety about this whole process, etc.)
• Arrange space/time for mentors to meet with mentees (you may want to be available for questions)
• Clarify that the purpose of the mentoring relationship is for the mentor to share their personal
experiences, NOT to advise the mentee in any way on how to apply for colleges, financial aid, etc. or
what choices to make
PDs for Teachers & Staff: Importance of Consistent
Message that Postsecondary Education is Possible
& Expected for All Students
• Administration, teachers, and staff
• In-service trainings that unify the message school is sending students: That
college is possible for all students!
• Define purpose statement of college focus
• Work with admin to ensure that the school’s mission statement is tied to
preparing all students to succeed in postsecondary education
• Encourage discussion and help teachers find resources for students who need
help with finding an appropriate postsecondary track
Teacher-Specific Ideas
• Create “College Corners” and
showcase alma maters
• Integrate CCR into curriculum
• Sponsor or co-sponsor College
• Host lunch workshop
• Regular encouragement of
students to pursue advanced
coursework, think about
college, etc.
Common Practices that Can be Refined and Expanded:
• Meet annually with feeder schools to develop CCR plan for scaffolding skills across
the grade levels
• Continue teaching the “soft skills” needed for college/career success (e.g., time
management, organization, encouraging class participation, problem solving,
working collaboratively, etc.)
• Financial aid workshops- both for students and parents & at EVERY grade level
• College Fairs- Elementary & Middle can do these too!
• Continue nurturing relationships with local colleges- organize field trips, college
tours, guest speakers, etc. to discuss issues common to your school’s population
• Career Fairs
• Share CCR messages at a variety of events: Orientation, Parent Meetings, Pep
Rallies, etc.
• Encourage all students to take rigorous coursework
• Encourage all students to participate in extracurriculars and summer enrichment
• Celebrate every students’ postsecondary plans at the high school level
• Pair up and discuss which interventions/activities you might like to
implement at your school
• Discuss obstacles and ways to overcome them
Thank you so much for coming!!
Feel free to contact us with questions:
Carolyn Berger:
Eric Thompson:
Helpful Guides and References