A recent report from the Education Commission of the States notes that states’ increased focus on boosting college readiness and postsecondary completion rates “has not been backed” by efforts to improve college counseling in secondary schools.
“The reality is that states are unlikely to meet postsecondary completion goals if current trajectories persist,” the report notes. “However, recent research points to counseling approaches correlated with increased odds of college-going that, along with appropriate supports once students do enter college, may help states make progress on achieving postsecondary completion targets. This is especially true among low-income students.”
The report notes that some states are taking a “build it, and that will come” model that fails to provide appropriate supplemental support for efforts such as web portals, individual learning plans, and mandates that all students complete a college application as part of their high school graduation requirements. For example, counselors, students, and parents are sometimes unaware that online portals exist, and even when they are, insufficient access to the internet outside of school—especially among low-income families—limits usage.
The report identifies several “low-cost, high-impact approaches” that have been successful, including short videos on anticipating return on investment from postsecondary education, college “coaches” who exclusively focus on preparing students for college, and summer text-messaging programs that remind college-intending graduates of key deadlines.
College Counseling in High Schools: Advising State Policy is available at http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/16/69/11669.pdf.