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3 nonacademic factors of college readiness to tackle in high school

TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2015 11:33 AM

Some states have long been focused on preparing their students for college, but with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, college readiness is now a national goal. So, rather than simply ensuring students graduate from high school, teachers and schools should now also look further into the students' futures, and prepare them for what may come after K-12. College- and career-readiness Standards are largely academic. After all, a student must have developed enough knowledge across every subject, as well as key soft skills like critical thinking and communication, to succeed in the post-secondary environment. But that's not the only part of being prepared for college. Here are three nonacademic college-readiness factors high school educators can help their students understand:

1. Assessing career interests
Throughout elementary and middle school, but especially during high school, teachers should begin helping students figure out what they aspire to do. What are they interested in? Do they have natural aptitudes for certain subjects? Having a career direction as early as the end of middle school or the beginning of high school could potentially allow students to choose a sequence of courses to help them prepare for it.

Not only that, but talking to every student about his or her goals is a key way to make college seem like a viable option for everyone. According to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, many more students aspire to go to college during high school than actually apply for it, which is why it's so important for high school educators to help students "see themselves as college bound."

2. Applying for college
One reason many students who want to go to college don't actually apply is that they don't understand the application process. Most education experts agree that it's important for high school teachers to work with individual students throughout the process, helping them prepare for standardized tests, write college essays and understand the Common Application. Of course, teachers should also provide recommendations for students to use in their applications.

3. Planning financially
According to the Institute of Education Sciences, a key way to increase college enrollment rates is to help students and their families understand how to plan financially and apply for federal student aid. High school teachers and counselors should start talking about financial planning in the earlier grades and continue helping students understand how to pay for education as they progress through school.