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What college readiness resources equip students for higher ed?

Marie SwanNovember 7, 2019

Students in a hallway working

It’s part of every teacher’s role to prepare their students to succeed in college. But it isn’t enough to simply ensure that your students have the right skills to get accepted into a college. They also need to have the necessary skills to stay there and to graduate without falling at any of the challenges or hurdles they encounter.

To meet this goal successfully, teachers can employ college readiness resources early on to prepare their students. Here, we take a closer look at some of the most effective resources that help develop knowledge, awareness, attitudes, and skills to ensure success for your students as they embark on the next path of their education journey.

Areas of preparation

Young people getting ready to head off to college could benefit from some basic preparation. Students need to be ready to take on a host of new challenges, and this means exploring skills and strategies involving:

  • Emotional and social learning
  • Thinking, communication, and study skills
  • Mental preparation and coping mechanisms for the very different environment of college

By utilizing the best resources in each of these areas, you can give your students the best grounding to prepare themselves for successfully applying to colleges and taking full advantage of the educational opportunities that present themselves after they enroll. 

Student in grad cap holding book
Photo: Jasmine Coro/Unsplash

5 great college readiness resources any teacher can use

1. Social and emotional preparation

Just because a student is eligible to go to college doesn’t mean that they’re actually ready for the challenges that lie ahead. An article in The Atlantic from 2016 discusses this problem and showcases the solutions that successful schools have adopted in preparing their classes to enter the world of higher education. Initiatives such as the Leader In Me program help even the most disadvantaged students to expand their social and emotional awareness and to boost the non-cognitive skills that are so important for success in college.

Meanwhile, a 2015 Bob Lenz article on Edutopia explores the importance of learning from mistakes. All too often, students give up at the first hurdle because they have become accustomed to the idea that failure means the end. Reframing failures into a key aspect of the learning process encourages young people to stay in college and to continue working toward their goals.

Students often find that the way in which they approach their studies in school varies considerably from the approach required in college. Developing a growth mindset is something essential for this, and yet it’s something that those who are emotionally and socially unprepared struggle to cope with. As a teacher, you can start preparing your students for the difference they’ll experience in reading and writing in college during their final months in your class. An Edutopia article from 2014 explores Amy Conley’s strategies and shows how by encouraging greater engagement and ownership over one’s own work.

2. Deeper learning to build up 21st-century skills

Without the necessary 21st-century skills in their armory, how can young people ever succeed in college? Despite having greater access to resources than ever before thanks to the internet, today’s students in many ways lack the essential communication, critical thinking, and collaboration skills that they need to succeed in college. As a teacher, you can help to prepare your students for this next phase in their life by focusing on deeper learning skills, such as those outlined in Bob Lenz’s blog and video series.

Students are familiar with school directing them down certain educational pathways and regurgitate stock answers rather than thinking for themselves abstractly and critically. These new skills can be challenging to develop once they have left the safety net of your classroom and have progressed to college. Todd Finley explores the possibilities of utilizing different classroom scenarios to promote critical thinking within a safe educational environment before needing to put it into practice in college.

With this in mind, finding ways to incorporate the CCRA standards into your classroom and lesson delivery can be a challenge, but Rebecca Alber’s Edutopia article on why collaboration and communication matter will help to inspire you to bring aligned listening and speaking practice into your group activities.

Student and teacher looking at book
Photo: Google Edu

3. The importance of PBL

Project-based learning (PBL) plays an important role in preparing students to attend college. There are many ways in which you can explore its potential in your classroom. Well-implemented PBL can tap into all the essential factors to boost college readiness. With a strong emphasis on classroom project-based learning, STEM education, integration of technology, and student leadership, PBL can help students learn the necessary skills to succeed in college and even beyond. 

Incorporating real-world learning into your curriculum is a valuable component of this. Removing the theoretical element from study — and applying ideas, principles, and concepts to understandable, relatable situations — is key to promoting the kind of reasoning and communication skills that are so vital for college success. Encouraging students to collaborate with each other to apply concepts that they have learned to a situation that is familiar in their own community is a useful way to encourage critical thinking and practical application. It’s this kind of horizon-broadening activity that prepares students for the new learning experiences that await them in college.

4. Making college more accessible

For some students, going to college seems to be the natural course of progression, and the only role you need to play as their teacher is to prepare them for the changes that they’ll experience. But for others, the mere idea of attending college seems to be far beyond their expectations. Those who come from disadvantaged families, or whose parents never went to college, may find that there’s a notable gap between their dream of higher education and the reality of enrolling in college.

Teachers can learn a lot from the Center for Public Education report analysis, which offers useful suggestions about some of the best and most practical ways of bridging that financial gap. Student advocacy can be extremely helpful in getting disadvantaged students to succeed in college. Providing additional guidance to those students who would be the first in their family to attend college is essential to giving them the best chance of success. Knowing how to tackle this problem can be difficult, but there are several strategies that you can employ. Edutopia has a useful article on this subject to help point education professionals in the right direction.

You may also find it challenging to prepare students of color to attend college, especially if they’ll be facing life on a campus with a predominantly white population. With the right online resources, it’s possible to generate conversation topics that can help black and ethnic minority students to smoothly transition into college life and to transform your classroom culture at an early stage. That way, young Latino and African American students can start to consider the possibility of attending college well in advance of the daunting event itself. By broadening horizons for these disadvantaged groups, you can encourage them to further their education beyond high school.

Student and teacher talking in classroom
Photo: Google Edu

5. Helping students with the selection and application process

If you’re teaching middle school and high school students, there needs to be a focus on how to help your students select the right college and navigate the application process. This doesn’t have to be a dull and dry subject to explore, however. You can use Classcraft’s Quests to make the process more interactive. By engaging students in their planning, these programs allow teachers to prepare their students without overwhelming them.

Preparing students to write their admission essays is another challenging part of a teacher’s role. This “Strategy for Discovering and Describing Student Accomplishments” is a useful resource to give educators the basis they need to help their students reflect on their accomplishments and experiences and evaluate them in an objective manner so they can present themselves in a positive, mature light.

Making use of resources to benefit students in their college journey

There’s no shortage of useful resources for educators who want to help their students to succeed in college, not only in terms of getting in but also in staying there and graduating with honors. By putting these resources into use in the classroom, teachers can help the next generation to excel and achieve their full potential, both in college and in their future careers.

Photo: Freepik