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Creating a College-Going Culture

There are numerous benefits to getting students onto a college campus as early as possible to build familiarity and a comfort level with the college environment. However, there are lower cost alternatives to the college visit and/or follow-up activities that maximize the effect of being on a campus. In addition to “cold hard cash”, cost factors associated with taking students off school campuses include the following: complementing curriculum requirements, complementing the secondary school’s academic schedule and extra-curricular activities, maintaining equilibrium in order that the campus family remains healthy, energetic and mutually supportive.

Following are ideas, requiring few resources that set the tone for getting all students and their families to see college in their futures…no exceptions. These are effective strategies beginning at the elementary and middle school levels.

Creating High Expectations:

    1. Post a map in a prominent location that highlights colleges where middle school staff earned their degrees.
    2. Post a map in a prominent location that highlights the colleges where high school graduates are planning to go.
    3. Display a self-commitment map of where they want to attend.
    4. Dedicate a zone near each teacher’s classroom entrance that provides their college and career information, filling the middle school hallway with career and college information while helping the campus family get better acquainted with each other.
    5. Have each classroom represent a college, displaying logos, pennants, banners and information.
    6. Recognize students who have graduated and acknowledge what they are doing. An example:  Wall of Fame for alumni.
    7. Recognize parents with a Wall of Fame.
    8. Embrace diversity with all displays and activities.
    9. Provide staff development opportunities, so that all levels of education are contributing to the goal: “All students can and will go on to post-secondary education.”
    10. Utilize curriculum, such as Navigation 101, or resources such as the Northwest Learning Association (NLA, Wapato, WA) grade level booklets.

For examples, access these links:
McClure University
Guess Who?

Does your school provide an all-inclusive college going culture? The links below can serve as a tool for school administrators, teachers and staff. School representatives can complete a College Going Survey and then review the survey results together. This can possibly help your school enhance your college going culture.

College Going Culture Survey for Middle Schools
College Going Culture Survey for High Schools

This information was collected by Early Outreach Partnership staff during several interviews, as well as the Early Outreach Symposium held at WSU Tri-Cities on January 22, 2010. Oversight provided by Genoveva Morales-Ledesma, Executive Director, WSU Tri-Cities, Early Outreach Programs.