A View of College Readiness from Recent High School Grad
This blog post was written by Maija Hall, a Rodel Foundation Summer Fellow.
I had the privilege of joining numerous Delaware education and community leaders including Governor Jack Markell and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy at P.S Du Pont Middle School for the unveiling of the Delaware College-Going Diagnostic about Delaware students’ high school progression and completion, college preparation and enrollment, and college retention. The release of this data addressed important issues affecting the overall success of Delaware students and created an environment to raise crucial questions challenging current school practices and the education system, sparking conversation on policy implementation in schools, reform in methods of student guidance, and preventative measures that can be adopted to ensure future student success.
This data analysis is essential to improving the current state of college readiness, enrollment, and retention. As a student matriculating into college in the fall, it was amazing to see so many state, business, and community leaders gathering together to tackle such a critical issue. I fully believe in the importance of tracking student college and career readiness as a means for improving graduation and retention rates. Implementing my own college access program in my high school, I saw the positive effects that can result from informing youth about the issues that affect them in education, such as peer mentorship and peer advocacy. My program named “College Crash Course” was a two-week workshop series addressing topics such as college admissions and application processes, the importance of college, and college access disparities. College Crash Course was an example of peer mentorship and was inspired by my introduction to college access through the TeenSHARP College Prep and Leadership Program. Using peer student mentors is a strategy that is rarely used, but highly effective. The Delaware Department of Education has many great programs and initiatives to improve student college and career readiness, yet greater student presence can inspire peer leadership and create a series of effective results.
Overall, the Strategic Data Project College-Going Diagnostic data release event was an important catalyst to the conversation of college-readiness and preparation at the state level. While it is hard hearing that only 30% of African-American ninth graders graduate on time, it informs me and others about the numerous gaps that we all must work to fill in order to ensure the success of Delaware students. Some of the steps taken toward improving the current state of college-going in Delaware include “Summer Nudge,” where the state seeks out students who have not yet enrolled in college, despite high student achievement, and provides them with advising and resources to assist them in the process. Summer Nudge has been implemented for the first time in Delaware this summer and is an innovative way to encourage students to enroll in college. Additionally, the state has broadened college week to college month this November. Both of these initiatives along with future policy implementations and student engagement will ensure significant progress in students as they move through high school and onto college.