South-Western Subject Matter: Students and families have many resources to help prep for life after high school

·4 min read

A great deal has changed for students in terms of the college admissions process over the years.

This is especially true given the effects of the global pandemic, and the choice to attend college after high school comes with additional considerations.

Marion Meadows is director of county programs for I Know I Can and oversees placements in the South-Western City School District.
Marion Meadows is director of county programs for I Know I Can and oversees placements in the South-Western City School District.

It's why the I Know I Can partnership within the South-Western City School District is so vital in 2022.

I Know I Can, a community-based partner and a Columbus college access program, facilitates student resources within schools that are grounded in inspiring, enabling and supporting students’ post-secondary pursuits.

As we have seen during the pandemic , many students chose not to attend college after high school due to uncertainty around campus policies, housing and how instruction would be delivered to students – in person or online. Many of these considerations remain as students investigate and pursue passions after they graduate.

One new wrinkle in this new world we live in is that opportunities now exist more frequently in which colleges do not require the submission of a traditional ACT or SAT score, creating a test-optional environment in the admissions process. Harvard University recently announced the extension of its test-optional policy for students through the class of 2026 – today’s eighth-graders.

It is a student’s choice to include test scores in the admissions decision and should be considered based upon admission trends for each institution. Students who choose not to include a test score should also feel confident in other areas of the college application process to express who they will be as a student. High school academic achievement, college essays, letters of recommendation and extracurricular involvement carry greater importance when the test score is omitted. Younger students can begin crafting the message they would like colleges and universities to receive by doing well in their classes and engagement with school, which will set them up well in this new test-optional setting.

As educators and as a community, we want students to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them. It is extremely important for students to have both a college application and FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – on file with the colleges they are considering ahead of those corresponding deadlines.

Members of the I Know I Can initiative and our schools are pushing every student to complete the FAFSA, if eligible, by the applicable deadlines. That same push exists for students to apply for colleges through the Common App or an individual institution application. As we know, there are financially positive ramifications for students in doing both in a timely fashion, and there is a multitude of help to get this completed.

The hope is that students make the decision to attend college with the end in mind: We want students to not only enroll in college, but to graduate and move into the career space of their choosing.

The important step for students is to explore career paths of interest prior to deciding the college they will attend. Students can take courses while in high school that introduce concepts that may be of interest to them. Students can use Xello, the South-Western City School District college and career readiness tool, to explore careers and colleges based on results from their completed assessments. South-Western Career Academy and College Credit Plus allow students to get a jump start on certifications or credits for the next step. Students hopefully graduate with the ability to earn a great return on investment for their college pursuits.

Ultimately, students and their families have to decide whether students will go to college and what college they will attend. In that decision-making process, it is quite possible that college may not provide a forum for the passions of each student. In that case, enrollment in the military or pursuing full-time employment directly after high school remain viable career pursuits.

Although the opportunity to enroll is the goal, there are many resources – both people and information – to help students achieve their short-term and long-term goals. While the times are changing, the constant of community and an empowering “I know I can” mindset continue to be rallying points for helping each student thrive in life after high school.

Marion Meadows is in his 11th year with the I Know I Can collegiate-connections program and is in his first year as director of county programs. Meadows oversees I Know I Can placements in the South-Western City School District, where the organization seeks to inspire, enable and support high school students in their pursuit and completion of a college education.

This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: South-Western Subject Matter: Students and families have many resources to help prep for life after high school

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