How To Help Students Prepare For College

How To Help Students Prepare For CollegeSo excited to have AVID as our special guest last month for #CollegeCash! AVID is a nonprofit that trains 70,000+ educators a year, so they can prepare all students for college, careers, and life. They started with one teacher in one classroom in 1980, and today, more educators in more than 6,000 K–16 schools partner with AVID to support student success. The AVID mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college, careers, and life, and I’m glad they could be here with us tonight to offer their knowledge! Parents and counselors, here is a recap from the chat.

Tell us more about AVID and its approach..

At AVID, we help schools increase academic rigor and create engaging learning environments to accelerate the performance of all students, especially those typically underrepresented in college.

We offer age-appropriate training and resources for elementary, secondary, and even higher education that help more students get to and through their postsecondary education and into their careers. And we have the proof..

We believe that equity, teacher effectiveness, strong campus-based leadership, and student-centered learning are key to preparing all students for college, careers, and life. AVID teachers are THE teachers you want for your students!

 Other than academics, what other skills are needed to succeed in college?

College has its own language/rules. In AVID, we explicitly teach college knowledge, so students feel comfortable finding the right school, understanding financial aid, and choosing a major. Knowing more helps students feel like they “fit in” when they arrive.

Students must be able to advocate for themselves and learn how to build connections with professors, fellow students, and other college staff. Asking for help, questioning, challenging, and collaborating are all key.

What are some important statistics around college completion?

We know that more education leads to better job opportunities. A high school diploma is simply not enough. Students will require postsecondary education to access the jobs of the future.

Nationally, the six-year college completion rate is 56.9%, so the work doesn’t stop at admissions. We need to prepare students to not only get in, but to persist to graduation.

Minority, first-generation college students, and students from low-income backgrounds, are often less likely to complete college. AVID’s mission is to help those students who are typically underrepresented in college thrive and succeed.

What key skills does your program teach, so students can be prepared for college?

We call our instructional framework WICOR: Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading. Our professional learning helps teachers embed these skills into their lessons in ways that make sense for them and their students.

Through a variety of teaching and learning strategies, AVID-trained educators promote skills like critical thinking, public speaking, listening, self-advocacy, collaboration, organization, and time management.

Another key skill that we teach is focused note-taking. Humans aren’t born knowing how to take and study notes. It’s a skill, just like any other one that must be taught and practiced.

Parents, educators, and students can find resources that promote these skills on our  AVID website

How does AVID integrate college readiness and career readiness?

One way we interest students in postsecondary opportunities is by connecting education to students’ interests and aspirations. AVID students complete career exploration activities that help them plan their path to the future.

We recently collaborated with the @USCCFoundation on a report, which highlights that many employers are finding that recent graduates are unprepared to succeed in the workforce because they lack foundational “soft skills

AVID educators are trained on how to teach and promote these soft skills. AVID students go on to be employees who can think critically, work together, organize projects, and communicate effectively because they’ve practiced these skills in school.

In addition to yearly college field trips, AVID teachers invite people from all walks of life to share their stories and career journeys. That exposure to a wide variety of professions is important in motivating students.

What is AVID like for high school students?

The best way to learn what AVID is directly from our students and educators.

An AVID class immediately strikes you as an energetic and noisy, but well-organized, class where students are engaged in all forms of learning—with one another and accessing the teacher as a guide. This is not your typical lecture class!

While founded as a specific elective class targeted toward students in the academic middle, AVID is now applied across the school. You can find AVID principles in science, math, and English classes—it’s a whole school approach!

AVID students are offered supports to accelerate their success academically as well as socially. This includes tutoring and mentoring, college visits, and help with college and scholarship applications.

What does AVID do to engage parents?

Many AVID partner schools hold AVID Family Nights to help families understand and experience AVID strategies and celebrate their student’s successes.

Many AVID schools hold College Signing Days (we celebrate athletes signing with teams—why not celebrate academic success?) to celebrate when students are accepted to college! The more moral support students have, the better.

We also help schools provide educational college workshops for students and families to demystify the college admissions and financial aid process. AVID students receive millions of scholarship dollars each year!

How can K–12 schools create a college-going culture? 

Make your walls talk. Posters, college pennants, college door decorating contests, and giving halls collegiate names are just a few examples we’ve seen to build the excitement.

Encourage every teacher to speak about their own college experience, sharing both the challenges and the milestones. Making a personal connection to college is key.

Celebrate college acceptances/scholarships in hallways and announcements, but always offer a way for students to learn more after you celebrate. Direct them to a counselor or AVID teacher! Let kids know that postsecondary opportunities are there for everyone.

What are three things you want to leave us with tonight?

No one person can support college readiness for students. It takes educators, families (or people who are like family), businesses, and community members.

There are serious opportunity gaps in our education system, and AVID’s mission is to close those gaps by providing the best professional learning, resources, and ongoing support to schools, so ALL students can succeed.

A10 There are some key ingredients to college and career readiness: opportunity to take challenging courses, good academic habits, soft skills, engaging teachers, a college-going culture, and social support.

If you want to learn more or see if AVID is in your school, we’d love to share! Contact us.

Join the conversation every Thursday for the #CollegeCash Twitter chat at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET