Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Starting Early to Prepare for College

Parents of high school students have access to lots of information about preparing their children for college. But families rarely realize that there are steps to be taken as early as elementary school to set their students up for college readiness and success, especially in families where going to college is not a given and students may not fully understand how and why they should consider a college education.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is the professional organization for college admission professionals - admissions officers, counselors, financial aid counselors, and private college consultants. This year, NACAC has consolidated and updated several prior handbooks to create Step by Step: College Awareness and Planning for Families, Counselors and Communities. This multi-part publication includes curriculum for students starting in elementary grades and continues with separate guides for middle school and early and later high school years. There is also a section on financial aid and accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Spanish language versions are also available.

This curriculum is particularly intended for professionals who work with "underrepresented and underserved students to provide comprehensive tools for meeting the needs of first-generation students and their families." Starting with worksheets on things like "What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?" in elementary school, and moving on to questions for older students about short and long-term goals, and lessons on types of colleges and standardized testing, the curriculum is rich with ways to engage students to look at higher education through the lens of their life interests and where it can take them. And, as this curriculum makes clear, it is never to early to start to think about college.

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