Doing What Works: College Aspirations

In a previous post, Marlene Darwin of the Doing What Works Initiative introduced their new online resource, Helping Students Navigate the Path to College.  This is one in a series of follow up posts describing the content of that resource. Although many students may have an initial desire to attend college or enroll in postsecondary education programs, unless the desire is supported and fostered throughout high school, students may lose their motivation and interest. This is especially true for students who do not have family members and friends who went to college or received any postsecondary training. The second research-based practice under this topic, Foster College Aspirations, notes that it is important for schools to foster college aspirations, even as early as elementary and middle school. In the expert interview, Making College Aspirations Real for Students and Families, Dr. Patricia Gándara explains how schools can use mentorships and peer interaction to begin fostering college aspirations as early as elementary school. Learn about how University Park Campus School in Worcester, Massachusetts has formed a partnership with Clark University to foster college-going aspirations in the slideshow, A University Partnership That Supports College-Going Aspirations. A College Readiness Framework: A K-16 Continuum of Learning, further describes how the school prepares students to handle the rigors of college. Schools can also build college-going aspirations through college visits and career explorations. Watch Campus Visits: Helping Students Envision Their Future and Looking Ahead: Career Explorations to learn more about these key concepts. Doing What Works also features tools and templates under the Do What Works section to help you use the materials in the Learn What and See How sections. Each tool is a downloadable Word document that you can edit and adapt to serve your needs. Professional development and technical assistance providers can use the tool, Learning Together: Fostering College Aspirations, to provide training to school and district personnel. This training can help participants develop an understanding of key concepts associated with fostering college aspirations. You can also find a self-assessment tool to assess processes for fostering college aspirations and a planning tool to refine a school’s approach. Guest Author: Marlene Darwin is a Senior Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research. She is the co-project director for the Doing What Works Initiative.  Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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