At CTL we have forged a strong partnership with GEAR UP, a federal college access program that seeks to prepare and enroll poor and minority students in college. Generally these students are first in their family to attend college, so support ranges from increasing academic rigor to providing early college experiences to reducing financial and other barriers for families. In talking with educator colleagues about college preparation, it doesn’t take long for the debate around college for all to emerge.
The conversation goes something like this: not all students want to go to college, or there are lots of certificate programs that match student interests, or college isn’t for everyone. There may be validity to some of these opinions, but for me the issue is less complex. As educators, we should aim high and encourage students to do the same. By ensuring that all students complete a pre-college curriculum, maintain good grades and prepare to score well on college entrance exams, we are giving students options now and in the future.
Just like in our role as parents we want to give our children the experiences and responsibilities that will launch them to be independent and functioning adults, as educators we have a parallel task. That task is to commit to college preparation for all students. It is difficult to look at a seventeen year old and predict where that student will be in ten or twenty years. Life always surprises us, and often students who don’t seem to be serious about school or goal driven, a few years out may decide to go to college to pursue career goals they hadn’t imagined previously. We should give them the tools so that when they decide they need more education, they are prepared.