What Does it Mean to be Admissions Ready?
By Julie Sweitzer
Why does Ramp-Up to Readiness™ say it is important for students to be ‘admissions ready’? Isn’t that the culmination of preparation, being admitted to a college? Perhaps yes, but for a student to be admitted to a college that fits their career and academic interests, from which they are likely to graduate, they need knowledge and a plan for success.
First, a student needs to understand the value of obtaining a postsecondary degree or credential in today’s world. College is not just more high school, but is a critical step in obtaining their dreams for their future.
Second, most students and indeed most of their parents do not know much about the range of postsecondary options today. Even parents who did attend college probably only know about the type of college they attended, and may know little beyond their experience at that particular institution.
Students need to match the types of colleges with their goals. A student interested in computers could take courses involving computing at technical, community and four year colleges, but choosing which one fits their career or other goals makes a big difference.
Location and size of the school can matter. One of my daughters was convinced she needed to go far away to college, but once she enrolled in a large institution in our metropolitan area she found that campus life was just as distant from home life as if she was in another state. (And we could bring her things she forgot.) My other daughter considered a large school in a distant city, but enrolled in a small school in a small town a few hours from home, and it was a perfect fit.
Once a student has a general sense of what type of institution they are interested in, they need to explore and meet admissions requirements – and know those requirements sufficient early enough in their secondary school career to take the appropriate classes. Students need to ask: Do I need to take two or more years of a language other than English? Should I take math in my senior year? If I don’t, will I be adequately prepared for an admissions exam such as the ACT or SAT, or placement exams required in many community colleges and technical programs such as welding?
Finally, a student needs to know what the process is for applying to college. Parents, even if you went to college, there have been changes. School counselors can be very helpful, but are often swamped. Community colleges may have ‘open’ admissions in general, but particular programs can have entry requirements or long waiting lists. Scholarship searches can start before the senior year. There are several ways to apply to multiple colleges at once, but there is little value in applying to more than 3 to 5 schools. Selecting reach, match and safety (one where admission is fairly certain) schools can be sufficient.
Colleges today work hard to support, retain and graduate students they admit. Students will find graduating easier if they select an institution that fits their goals.
CAREI recently conducted a study of Ramp-Up to Readiness, the 6 - 12 college and career readiness curriculum we have developed here at the University of Minnesota that is kickstarting postsecondary planning efforts across the nation. The results show that Ramp-Up is having a positive impact on the students who use it. In the study, 87% of students reported that they had a better understanding of the benefits of earning a college degree or certificate because of their participation in the program. 83% of students, additionally, said they knew more about they must do to be admitted to college as a result of what they learned in Ramp-Up. We are thrilled with these results and are excited for the students’ futures.
About the Author
Julie Sweitzer is Executive Director of the College Readiness Consortium and Ramp-Up to Readiness. Previously she directed the Minnesota Principals Academy and helped create Youth Central, a website that makes it easy to find the University of Minnesota programs and activities that serve K12 students and families. Julie was an elected board member of the St. Louis Park Public Schools for 12 years.
She holds a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota’s Law School.