Staff at Dulaney High School in Timonium, Md., told graduating seniors to apply to college and get accepted to at least one two- or four-year college or university. It worked, the Baltimore Sun reports. All graduates of the Class of 2015 have been accepted to at least one college or community college.
A diploma from Dulaney High School, Class of 2012 (WestonStudioLLC via Flickr Creative Commons)
Whether or not they’ll attend college is up to them, but they’ve been accepted. About 92 percent of them expect to attend college, with about 80 percent going to four-year universities and about 20 percent to two-year colleges.
“If we as educators, and a school system, truly want students to be college- and career-ready, then we should work to assist students to at least be accepted to college by the time they graduate so that they have the option available to them,” the paper quoted Robert Murray as saying. He’s an administrator at New Town High School in Owings Mills, Md., where this year’s graduates achieved a 100-percent college acceptance rate for the second year in a row.
A number of high schools across the country have implemented programs requiring all graduating seniors to apply to college, even if they don’t plan on going. At the very least, getting accepted will give students options.
“We want to ensure that students are prepared for post-secondary life, military or the world of work,” the Sun quoted New Town Principal Kevin L Whatley as saying. “We want students to have a plan A, B and C. This [initiative] gives them options.”
Options are good for kids, and we resoundingly applaud this initiative. There’s a small chance it sends the wrong message to kids that there’s only one path to a successful life after high school, a path that includes college. But I don’t think that’s the message kids get. Instead, I think they feel empowered.
“I’m looking like the golden child,” the Sun quoted Ta’ler Robinson, 18, a New Town graduate who will be the first person in her family to attend college, as saying. “Everybody is looking at me, like, What am I going to do next? Because going to college is like a big move,” she said.
Plus, schools that don’t at least try to get graduating seniors to apply to college are probably not giving students the help they need from guidance counselors.
A 2005 US Department of Education survey found that public school students get an average of 38 minutes of college admissions advice from their guidance counselors over four years. Today the number is certainly lower, as the student-to-counselor ratio at US high schools has gone up. In the 2010-11 school year, Maryland schools had one guidance counselor for every 357 students, better than the national average of 471 students per counselor.
But while Maryland’s ratio may be better than the national average, the number still isn’t low enough to help students navigate a college application process that challenges even the brightest among them and their families. Having guidance counselors encourage applying to college is good, because it gives all students some extra time with those counselors.
I only warn students and their counselors and families to be vigilant in seeking acceptance letters from colleges and universities, steering clear of disreputable colleges that may only be interested in profit, as we reported last month.