Bringing Education to After-School Programs-1999
A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Think College Early in After-School Programs
"I also ask this Congress to support our efforts to enlist colleges and universities to reach out to disadvantaged children starting in the sixth grade so that they can get the guidance and hope they need so they can know that they, too, will be able to go on to college."
--President Clinton, State of the Union address, 1997 January 27, 1998
Background. Research shows us that almost all students will need at least two years of college to compete in tomorrow?s global economy. However, many obstacles lie in the way of making college a reality for every student.
- High-achieving students from low-income families are five times less likely to attend college than high-achieving students from high-income families [NELS 1998].
- In a recent survey, almost 70 percent of parents indicated that they have little information or want more information about which courses their child should take to prepare for college, and 89 percent of parents want more information about how to pay for college, including the use of tax credits [Gallup, September. 1998].
- Among students who were in the eighth grade in 1988, those who took challenging mathematics and science courses were much more likely to go to college than students who did not take these courses. For example, students who took algebra I, geometry, and chemistry in middle or high school, regardless of their income level, were more likely to go to college than students who did not take these courses.
- While taking algebra I, geometry, and chemistry was especially important for youth from low-income families, low-income children were much less likely to take these courses than their peers from higher income families.
- Other studies show that completing physics, calculus, and the third and fourth years of a foreign language is very important to get into Tier I universities. Yet, many parents and students do not know that information.
How to integrate getting students ready for college early with after-school programs. Not surprisingly, many program activities for middle, junior, and high school students that create pathways to college mirror high quality activities which 21st Century Community Learning Centers may undertake. The national goals of increasing college aspirations and preparation are very much in line with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program?s goals of providing a variety of academic and enrichment activities to students and parents in the communities which they serve. Examples of how your Center can help include:
- Providing after-school tutoring or mentoring programs;
- Creating opportunities for family involvement;
- Establishing formal linkages with nearby colleges;
- Using college students or faculty as mentors and role models for program participants;
- Beginning a summer research program between nearby colleges and middle schools;
- Providing financial aid education to middle and junior high school participants and their families
- Conducting field trips to college campuses;
- Helping middle level and high school counselors and staff encourage more students to aspire to and prepare for college preparatory courses like algebra and geometry;
- Offering tutoring services to older students who are enrolled in challenging college preparatory courses;
- Offering summer science/math field trips or lectures with students, parents and faculty;
- Offering other expanded educational opportunities, enrichment, and academic assistance classes.
Three examples of effective mentoring and early college awareness programs that could be combined with an after-school program follow.
- Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) is a school-college-community partnership to increase the numbers of inner-city Houston youth continuing on to college. Project GRAD is a not-for-profit organization working with a series of feeder systems that together include 24 elementary, middle and high schools and over 17,000 children. The focus during the early grades is on reading and math, and in high school on dropout prevention and college enrollment. The results from the project are impressive. The Ford Foundation has supported similar efforts in a number of other cities. For more information visit http://www.thenationalcenter.org/.
- The Early Scholars Outreach Program (ESOP), established in 1987, is a partnership between the University of Washington (UW) and nine Washington State middle schools with large enrollments of disadvantaged students, a group that is underrepresented in higher education. The program's aim is to increase the number of students who are enrolled and participating competitively in a college preparatory curriculum by the time they reach the ninth grade. During the school year, high achieving UW students from similar backgrounds serve as role models and provide tutoring and mentoring. The ESOP provides these sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders with visits and overnight stays on the University campus, where they visit academic departments, hear presentations from faculty, participate in study skills workshops, and interact with UW students in a variety of settings. A series of workshops are held for parents to help families establish home environments that promote academic achievement. As a bridge to high school, incoming ninth-grade participants take part in a six-week summer enrichment program that provides training in reading, writing, language arts, mathematics, computer applications, and study skills.
founded in 1989 at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, matches college students with sixth- through eighth-graders from two partner schools. The goals of the program are to provide youth with alternative life/work options through increased exposure to educational and career planning resources; and to provide a match with a college mentor to provide critical academic assistance and cultural awareness. Campus Partners serves approximately 50 to 60 sixth through eighth-graders per year. Youth are matched with college student volunteers using an interest survey. The mentor and the youth develop goals for the relationship. Each month, mentors and youth meet twice one-on-one and once as a group for "rap" sessions on such themes as goal-setting, personal relationships, communication, and personal health maintenance. Other activities include life planning activity sessions and tutoring. Pre- and post-surveys have indicated attitudinal changes toward academics, enhanced employment outlook, and improved self-concept through working cooperatively with others and relating in new, constructive ways.
- The Campus Partners Mentoring Program
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION COLLEGE-GOING RESOURCES
As you think about organizing and implementing your after-school program with an emphasis on preparing for college early, here are some materials available on the U.S. Department of Education?s website http://www.ed.gov/thinkcollege/ that can be useful to you:
- Getting Ready for College Early
- Preparing Your Child for College
- Think College? Me? Now?
- Funding Your Education
- 1998 Student Guide
- High School Students, You Can Go to College and Here?s How?
- Yes, You Can! A Guide for Establishing Mentoring Programs to Prepare Youth for College
If you would like hard copies or if the electronic version is not yet accessible, you can order these materials by calling toll free 1-877-4ED-PUBS, or order on-line by going to http://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html
A U.S. Department of Education initiative and getting ready for college early. Along with the many existing federal resources to help kids go to college -- Pell grants, direct lending, work study ? is a new program targeted at middle-school students.
Think College Early. To deal with the challenge of "opening the doors of college to all Americans and making two years of college as universal as high school is today," this initiative is aimed to help middle and junior high school students and their families in the college preparation process. Learn about prerequisite courses, financial assistance, tests you need to take, and other information on getting ready for college.
College is Possible. The Coalition of America?s Colleges and Universities has launched a national education campaign to enhance public knowledge about financing a college education. Nearly1,200 colleges and universities will participate. The campaign, called "College Is Possible," will include efforts by local campuses to reach students and parents in their region supported by a website http://www.CollegeIsPossible.org, the U.S. Department of Education?s special toll-free number for college information (1-800-433-3243), and a comprehensive resource guide.
The GEAR UP program. Research demonstrates the importance of early intervention in boosting students? educational expectations and helping them to get on the right track academically for postsecondary education. The Department of Education?s new GEAR UP program was created in the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, and is modeled after the president?s High Hopes for College proposal and the National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) program. GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is based on successful programs such as Eugene Lang?s "I Have a Dream" program and Project GRAD and is designed to encourage more young people to have high expectations, stay in school, study hard, and go to college.
The Fiscal Year 1999 budget provides $120 million for GEAR UP. This funding will be split between partnership grants and state grants, with at least one-third allocated to each. This new competitive grant program supports early college awareness activities and preparation activities at both the local and the state level.
GEAR UP partnership grants. This initiative will award multi-year grants to locally designed partnerships between colleges and high-poverty middle schools, plus at least two other partners -- such as community organizations, businesses, religious groups, state education agencies, parent groups, or non-profits -- to increase college-going rates among low-income youth. To be most effective, partnerships will be based on the following proven strategies:
- Informing students and parents about college options and financial aid, and providing students with a 21st Century Scholar Certificate -- an early notification of their eligibility for financial aid;
- Promoting rigorous academic coursework based on college entrance requirements;
- Working with a whole grade-level of students in order to raise expectations for all students;
- Starting with sixth or seventh grade students and continuing through high school graduation with comprehensive services including mentoring, tutoring, counseling, and other activities such as after-school programs, summer academic and enrichment programs, and college visits.
GEAR UP state grants. These grants will build on the experience of the former state grant program replaced by the GEAR UP program in the new Higher Education Act (HEA) law. GEAR UP State grants will be awarded to states to provide early college awareness activities, improved academic support, information on paying for college, and scholarships. Although few restrictions apply, the proposed programs must treat low-income students as a priority and should be coordinated with the efforts of schools, local community organizations, and colleges and universities. The former state grant program awarded grants to nine states. Several states provided additional academic programs and opportunities with promising results, and several states partnered with other organizations, including foundations and businesses.
Last Updated -- August 30, 1999, (glc)