As if getting into and paying for college weren't difficult enough!

From our friends at National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC):

The primary policy goal of NACAC members is the improvement of college access for all students. NACAC’s recommendations for solving the college access crisis fall under three research-based policy principles: access to college preparatory coursework, investment in need-based student aid, and access to quality school counseling. NACAC’s recommendations to Congress on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, or No Child Left Behind) focus on improving access to quality school counseling for the neediest students.

In 2008, the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago released a report, “From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College,” that came to similar conclusions regarding the college access crisis. The report concluded that critical steps to improving college enrollment and success were creating a college-going culture in the school, and providing students with adequate support and guidance, and that school counselors were in a unique position to do both.

Based partly on the conclusions of this report, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) drafted and introduced the Pathways to College Act, in order to replicate the successes detailed in the report nationwide.

Summary of Legislation

The Pathways to College Act would provide competitive grant funds to high need school districts for the purpose of improving college going rates of all students. Eligible grant recipients would be required to use grant funds to provide the following:
 Professional development for high school counselors in postsecondary advising
 One on one meetings with a school counselor to develop a postsecondary plan for every student
 Information for all students and their families on the college application process, paying for college, and preparing for college
 Development of a school-wide plan to increase college-going culture in the school

The Pathways to College Act Would:
Improve College Readiness and Academic Achievement for the Neediest Students
Increase the amount of one-on-one time students have with a highly trained counselor, for the specific purpose of helping plan for their postsecondary options.

 Students need more than high aspirations to go to college. Low-income students require greater access to structured social support, including peer support, mentoring, and personalized support, parental involvement, and early college preparation and planning (Pathways to College Network, 2007).
 School counselors are among the best and most easily accessible sources of information about postsecondary preparation. High school students report wanting more individual time with their school counselor for college planning. (Students as Allies in Improving their School, 2004)
 Low-income and first generation college students do not have the same access to the guidance, information, and support needed to effectively navigate the college application process as their more advantaged peers. This lack of information and support may be as important a barrier to enrolling in college as academic qualifications and financial resources (Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2008).
 For many students, a lack of academic preparedness is exacerbated by a lack of academic and financial guidance, information, and resources necessary to understand and plan for getting into and succeeding in college (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2008).
 Ninety-two percent of high school counselors consider themselves the primary source of information for their students about paying for college. Sixty-five percent of public secondary school counselors at low-income schools believe that students and parents are discouraged from considering college as an option due to lack of knowledge about financial aid (NACAC, 2006).

Help Create and Maintain a College-Going Culture

The Pathways to College Act would emphasize the need to plan early academically and financially for college, and would engage all students in college readiness planning from their first year in high school.
 Counseling services can have a dramatic effect on students’ education plans. Access to information about college and financial aid is a strong predictor of postsecondary education choices and college enrollment (The College Board, 2006).
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Tell your Senators and Members of the House of Representatives to support the Pathways To College Act! Click HERE to send a message.

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The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer, the authors of referenced articles and websites, and such guest bloggers as may appear.
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