What is COLLEGE READINESS?
The COLLEGE READINESS program is designed to meet the educational and social needs of students in the middle--students who, with support, have the potential to succeed in a rigorous course of study and go on to attend and graduate from a four-year college or university. Through COLLEGE READINESS, students--often from those groups most underrepresented on postsecondary campuses--are prepared to meet four-year college entrance requirements by mastering college preparatory curricula.
The foundation of the COLLEGE READINESS program is an elective class that provides academic support for students who aspire to college and who would benefit from daily in-school instructional support in order to be successful in a college preparatory course of study. COLLEGE READINESS course content includes instruction intended to improve a variety of skills; tutorials designed to increase higher-level thinking and success in rigorous courses; and motivational activities, guest speakers, and college and career exploration.
Most students can succeed in rigorous courses and get into and through college by perseverance, hard work, and, as the COLLEGE READINESS program’s name reveals, “individual determination.” However, many students need assistance in reaching the goal of going to college. COLLEGE READINESS students are placed with a strong group of peers and adults who share a commitment to academic excellence and who work together for student success. In the COLLEGE READINESS classroom students find high expectations, encouragement, day-to-day help, a vision of college as an expected and attainable goal, and guidance in and skills for reaching that goal. Ultimately, COLLEGE READINESS provides a social and academic structure to support students as they work to succeed.
What does an COLLEGE READINESS class look like?
In schools on a traditional schedule, the COLLEGE READINESS class is an elective class that meets daily. Two periods per week are devoted to developing the academic strategies needed to succeed in rigorous classes; two periods per week are devoted to tutorial sessions; and one period per week is set aside for motivational activities and career and college exploration. In schools with block scheduling, the class is structured to reflect a similar distribution of instructional time.
During the two periods per week devoted to development of academic skills, students are taught time management, good study habits, and effective study skills. They learn and practice higher-level thinking skills, effective reading and writing strategies, library research strategies, test taking skills, and interviewing and presentation skills. They learn to participate attentively and take comprehensive notes in all their classes. Students are taught the Cornell note-taking method, which assists them in organizing, analyzing, summarizing and reviewing material, and helps them prepare for tests. Notes are kept in an COLLEGE READINESS binder that is checked weekly. Students prepare for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT by reviewing math and language arts and by developing vocabulary skills and test-taking strategies.
During the two tutorial sessions per week, college students, retired educators, and/or adults from business and industry tutor COLLEGE READINESS students. Students prepare for tutorial groups by developing questions about the material they are studying in their other classes. In tutorial groups, under the tutor’s guidance, students discuss class notes, clarify questions, explore ideas, review for tests, and resolve troublesome homework problems using a Socratic method of shared inquiry which facilitates the development of higher-order thinking skills. In the process, they become better at listening and expressing ideas, and they discover, understand, and remember ideas because they are actively involved in discussing and defending them.
Tutorial groups not only help with the work at hand but also address the reluctance of many students to seek and use help. This unwillingness to take advantage of resources prevents students from resolving questions and persevering in difficult courses. Through tutorials COLLEGE READINESS students develop habits that are associated with the most successful college students: seeking help when needed and studying intensely in collaboration with classmates.
Motivational activities and career and college exploration are scheduled for the equivalent of one period a week. Guest speakers expose students to career options and inspirational stories. Field visits to businesses expand career awareness, and college tours and speakers help students visualize college as a realistic goal. Former COLLEGE READINESS students now in college are some of the most powerful speakers, communicating that college is an attainable goal and that COLLEGE READINESS charts a direct path.
What kind of commitment do the students make to the COLLEGE READINESS program?
The COLLEGE READINESS program requires hard work and perseverance and is effective only if participation is voluntary. Students must sign a contract agreeing to:
- Enroll in COLLEGE READINESS as an elective class.
- Enroll in a rigorous course of study.
- Study at least two hours a day and complete all assignments.
- Maintain an organized COLLEGE READINESS binder that includes class notes, study material, assignments, and completed work.
- Participate in COLLEGE READINESS tutorial groups.
- Assist teachers and students in maintaining a positive learning environment. Participate in COLLEGE READINESS field trips and activities.
What role do parents and guardians play in COLLEGE READINESS?
The involvement of parents and guardians is a priority in COLLEGE READINESS. COLLEGE READINESS parents and guardians want their children to succeed and are an integral part of the learning team. As part of admission into the COLLEGE READINESS program, parents and guardians are informed of the rigorous COLLEGE READINESS curriculum and are required to sign a document of commitment to support their student. Parents and guardians are kept informed about program events and expectations through newsletters, telephone calls, and parent meetings. Parent/guardian meetings help build a strong adult peer group through which parents and guardians can encourage one another, share information, and become more involved in the overall school program.