A recent Birmingham News article, “Third of college-bound graduates in Alabama need remedial classes,” notes that over 50 percent of graduating seniors from 223 or Alabama’s 357 high schools needed to take remedial college classes in math or English. These results are consistent with Alabama’s 2010 ACT results, which indicated that the following percentage of Alabama’s high school seniors failed to demonstrate college readiness:
- 34 percent failed to demonstrate college readiness in English
- 69 percent failed to demonstrate college readiness in Math
- 53 percent failed to demonstrate college readiness in Reading
- 77 percent failed to demonstrate college readiness in Science
Parents must realize that they have an important role in ensuring that their children are taking the appropriate high school classes. Nationally, there are huge differences in the college readiness of students based on their high school course taking.
- Only 7 percent of students who take less than the their high school core classes in math are college ready
- Only 13 percent of students who take their high school core classes in math are college ready, and
- 55 percent of students who take math classes beyond their high school core classes in math are college ready
A longstanding popular myth among high school students and their parents is the importance of focusing on GPAs as opposed to focusing on course taking—i.e., taking easier classes to get high grades as opposed to risking lower grades in more rigorous classes. Clearly, it is a case of, “Pay me know or pay me later.” Failure to enroll in rigorous high school classes can cost students thousands of dollars in tuition for remedial college classes, limit a student’s college options, significantly reduce a student’s access to college scholarship opportunities, result in lower SAT and ACT scores, and substantially reduce the likelihood of a student graduating from college.
Pay attention to your high school schedule!
TheCall Me MISTER program (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models), founded and hosted at Clemson University, is a national teacher leadership program whose purpose is to prepare students for careers as elementary school teachers. Cultivating servant leaders is a primary goal of the program and increasing the number of African-American male teachers is an important initiative of the program. Graduates are expected to have an impact by returning to critical need schools and communities to pursue their professional careers. It is expected that students who complete their program of study will become certified to teach and will assume a teaching position in a public school and teach one year for each year they received financial support from the Call Me MISTER program.
The projects provides:
- Book allowances
- Tuition assistance through loan forgiveness ($5,000 – $7,00 annually)
- Academic support
- Social and cultural support
Partner schools are located in South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. They include major universities, HBCUs, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges.
Anderson University • Benedict College • Claflin University • Clemson University • College of Charleston • Coastal Carolina University • Greenville Technical College • Midlands Technical College • Morris College • South Carolina State University • Tri-County Technical College • Trident Technical College • University of South Carolina – Beaufort • The North East Florida Educational Consortium – NEFEC • Eastern Kentucky University • Metropolitan Community College • Cheyney University • Longwood University
Contact any of the partner schools to learn more about admission requirements, scholarships, book allowances, loan forgiveness, and how your education can make a difference in the educational journeys of others.
In a previous post, I wrote about the financial risks of choosing the wrong college. I noted recent research that shed light on the low graduation rates and huge loan debt that students risk when attending for-profit colleges. Attorney General Jack Conway of Kentucky has initiated a lawsuit against for-profit college, Daymar College, alleging that the school overcharged students for textbooks and mislead students about financial aid and credit hours. There are seven for-profit colleges under investigation for aggressive recruiting, high tuition, low rates of job placement, and misleading students about financial aid.
The suit further alleges that students were misled regarding their ability to transfer credits to other colleges and Daymar enrolled students who failed to meet its own admissions standards. Enrolling students is big business for for-profit colleges. During the 2009/10 school year, Daymar received over $11 million in federal Pell Grants, while having the second highest student default rate among Kentucky-based schools.
As difficult as it is for parents and students to identify the “real costs” of a college education, colleges are using fees to tack on even more costs. Some of these fees can be a significant add-on. Add on $100 here, $50 there, and perhaps toss in another $1,088 there! While schools may publicize no, or only, a small increase in tuition, the same schools may have a huge increase in an assortment of student fees. The USA Today article notes that Georgia’s public universities publicized a 3 percent increase in tuition, however, add in the increased fees, the real costs increased by 9 percent.
For parents interested in researching K-12 schools, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics will allow you to pull up data on most U.S. Public/Private k-12 school, colleges, and technical schools:
Go to the National Center for Education Statistics website and select the pull down menu “School Search.” From there you can research K-12 public/private schools and colleges.
You may find the following sites helpful.
Two other helpful websites School Data Direct and School Matters are currently being redesigned.
In U.S. Department of Education research, the level of math and science that a student completes in high school is the clearest predictor of a student’s success in college. 2010 ACT results indicate that all college-bound high school seniors had their lowest scores in math and science. A recent University of Missouri study notes, “beginning first-graders that understand numbers, the quantities those numbers represent, and low-level arithmetic will have better success in learning mathematics through the end of fifth-grade, and other studies suggest throughout the rest of their lives.”
Lead researcher, professor David Geary, also notes, “This study reinforces the idea that math knowledge is incremental, and without a good foundation, a student won’t do well because the math gets more complex.” The paper, “Cognitive Predictors of Achievement Growth in Mathematics: A Five Year Longitudinal Study,” will be published in the journal Developmental Psychology.
Parents should be particularly concerned with the 2009 NAEP Results (National Assessment of Education Progress), which indicate that most U.S. 4th– and 8th-graders are not proficient in math.
4th-grade performance by racial group:
- 50 percent of White students are below proficiency
- 79 percent of Hispanic students are below proficiency
- 85 percent of Black students are below proficiency
8th-grade performance by racial group:
- 57 percent of White students are below proficiency
- 83 percent of Hispanic students are below proficiency
- 88 percent of Black students are below proficiency
The Associated Press article, “Tougher Standards Mean More Schools ‘Failing’ indicates that many schools are not making “AYP” (Annual Yearly Progress) as measured by No Child Left Behind. Subsequently, many students find themselves attending schools that are considered “academically unacceptable” by the U.S. Department of Education. The article reports that the number of academically unacceptable schools is increasing substantially in many states:
- 135 schools in Louisiana
- 720 schools in New Mexico
- 7 out of 10 schools in North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District
- 6 out of 7 schools in North Carolina’s Wake County School District
- 4 out of 10 schools in Georgia
As opposed to increasing student achievement to the levels set by the No Child Left Behind legislation, states like Montana and South Dakota have decided to simply ignore the standards, viewing them as unrealistic.
While state departments of education and local school districts debate what are realistic and unrealistic levels of student achievement for their schools to pursue, many students and parents are fully aware that their schools are not good schools and that students are not being adequately prepared for college and careers. In fact, while schools are concerned with achieving “AYP” (Adequate Yearly Progress), parents and students should be more concerned with whether their schools are achieving “ACP” (Adequate College Preparation). Parents and students must pursue all available opportunities to ensure that students are learning what they need to know to be prepared for college and careers. Five easy steps to take are:
- If you attend a low-performing school, then ensure that you are in the most rigorous classes available in your school.
- Identify tutorial support at your church, the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, local fraternities and sororities, students in higher grades, and after school programs.
- Get as many test preparation books as you can, particularly for SAT/ACT subject-areas, i.e., math, science, reading, English, and writing, and for any high school graduation tests required in your state.
- Identify summer or after school enrichment programs in reading, math, and science. One such program would be the CDF Freedom Schools.
- Develop a study group and surround yourself with other high-performing students, particularly students who are fortunate to attend high-performing schools.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law, a bill that will allow undocumented college students in California to receive private financial aid for college. The California Dream Act is still being proposed that would allow such students to receive financial aid from public sources as well.
California is not the only state allowing undocumented students to live the dream: previously, the Illinois House passed its own version of the DREAM Act with bipartisan support. The Illinois bill will establish a private DREAM fund, which will grant scholarships to eligible DREAMers who graduate high school. It also mandates that high school counselors and educators be fully aware of educational opportunities available to these youth.
A study being published in the American Sociological Review finds that young adults who were brought to the United States as immigrants without the legal authority to reside in the country do pursue an education, but rarely are able to use that education to get good jobs. The study found that one of the first times many of these young adults felt the impact of their immigration status was when they applied to college — and realized that they could not seek financial aid. Just about half of those studied tried for some college education. But, without the legal right to work in the United States, very few reported the kind of economic advancement associated with higher education. The study was conducted by Roberto G. Gonzales, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.
Despite this study, or perhaps because of the study, undocumented youth who are able to get a college education consider focusing on entrepreneurship so that they can start their own businesses or expand the businesses that their parents frequently start. This has been the strategy adopted by immigrant groups to the United States for years.
Other resources for undocumented students:
- National Conference of State Legislator Overview: Undocumented Students
- National Conference of State Legislator listing of states with favorable tuition policies for undocumented students
- National Conference of State Legislator resource listing for undocumented students
- National Immigration Center: Facts about in-state tuition for undocumented students
- DREAM ACT Portal
- Investing in the American Dream by Roberto G. Gonzalez of the Immigration Policy Center
- White House facts on the Dream Act
- Advice from the College Board
- BigFuture Q and A
- Choose Your Future Resource Page for Undocumented Students
- Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling Guidance for Undocumented Students
- TAFSA (Texas Application For State Aid)
Prince George’s County Schools (MD) is offering ninth-graders an opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and a college degree (AA) through their “Middle College” program. Only 100 of the 980 ninth-graders who applied will be able to enter the program where they become full-time students at Prince George’s Community College while they are enrolled in high school. A number of school districts are offering such programs, however, there is usually a qualifying criteria, like grades, test scores, placement tests, or teacher recommendations. Students who want to explore such opportunities need to ensure that they are academically successful during elementary and middle school so that they make the cut. It also would help to avoid discipline infractions and to have great teacher recommendations.