College might not be for everyone; however, in general, it is a good idea to prepare students to go. A big part of preparing students to go to college is investing them in believing college could be part of their future. This is easier said than done. Some students already have a good understanding of what college is like, but some students don’t know anything about college.
The vast majority of educators have themselves been to college. So, they take for granted that students simply know the basics of higher education. Students who don’t know may find it daunting and intimidating, which might give rise to a negative voice in their head telling them they can’t do it.
How can we demystify college for students who don’t already know?
1. Talk about college regularly
Don’t forget the importance of simply talking about college. Talking about college in school is an important part of getting kids acclimated to the possibility of eventually going to college. Some schools do this by naming their classes after universities, but even simply talking about your college experiences suffices.
2. Take campus tours
There is nothing like walking around a college campus in terms of getting students to visualize the possibilities. In addition to getting to walk around the facilities, kids get to see college students in their natural environment. Tour guides can answer questions and if you plan right…students can even eat lunch at the food court.
3. Invite guest speakers
If you can’t get to a college campus, then bring the campus to you. Speakers can answer questions about the college experience. This is beneficial for high school students especially when the speaker talks about scholarships. Often, they bring swag from the school to pass out to students. Never underestimate the impact a college t-shirt can have on a middle schooler’s outlook.
4. Prepare them academically
College is not for everybody, but it is not the place of teachers to determine that for the student. Educators should prepare students for a life a choice. Make sure you are following a curriculum that places students on a path to be competitive in college. A student may not be ready for college even if you do all the right things, but we know they won’t be if they aren’t prepared for it.
5. Use entrance exams
One of the biggest barriers to college in the ACT and SAT exams. Prepare students to take these exams by using those type of questions in class. Better yet, stage practice tests to simulate the conditions. The more exposure students have with these type of exams, the better they will do.
Every student you teach won’t go to college, but it shouldn’t be treated like some secret club in which only members can know the details. The more students are exposed to college the more likely they are to go and be successful.