Positioning high school students to gain college access should begin as early as their freshman year. During these formative years of students’ high school career, teachers, parents, and counselors should ensure that they provide students with the guidance and information they need to make informed choices regarding (a) the courses they take, (b) the extracurricular activities they participate in, (c) their personal growth and development, and (d) their level of involvement in their communities. In addition, students should be provided with varied opportunities to visit college campuses and become familiar with the college environment.
In regards to course-taking decisions, the National Association for Admissions and Counseling (NACAC) suggests that the courses students take during high school play an integral role in positioning them to meet the admission criteria for all colleges that they are interested in attending. With that said, a strong emphasis should therefore be placed on encouraging students to enroll in advanced level courses early in their high school career. The rigor included in these courses provides students with the academic skills they need to excel in college and make their college application more competitive.
Equally important, is the need to place a strong emphasis on increasing those personal skills that position students to be successful namely: time management, leadership development, and interpersonal communication. Each of these skills can be enhanced when students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities and various community engagement efforts.
Today, colleges are seeking to admit students with well-rounded experiences and accomplishments. So let’s start positioning our students to gain college access and success by fostering their holistic development. The positive long-term implications for adopting this approach are enormous.
Archer-Banks, D. A. M. (2009, September). Key Connections: The role of teachers and parents in college access among underrepresented urban youth. A paper presented at National College Access Network Conference, San Francisco, CA.
Archer-Banks, D. A. M., Dyer, T., & Negron-Reyes, D. (2011, November). The role of university/high school partnerships in enhancing college access among urban high school students. Paper presented at the Educational Strategies & Student Engagement Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Radford, A.W. & Ilfill, N.(2016). Preparing Students For college: What high schools are doing and how their actions influence ninth graders’ college attitudes, aspirations, and plans. Retrieved from https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/Research/preparingstudents/