Together, mentors and parents can really improve college and career readiness.

One of the primary ways we define College and Career Ready (CCR) is an ACT score of 22 for a college track student, 18 for a technical school track student, and 18 for a workforce bound student. Since it is our goal to have all of our graduates college and career ready, those are pretty ambitious standards. However, they are also logical standards because a student going to college will probably not need to take remedial coursework if they reach the benchmark score of 22, and likewise, students on a technical school track will not need to take remedial courses if they score 18. Not only is taking remedial classes, which don’t count toward a degree, expensive and time consuming, students who have to take remedial coursework are considerably less likely to graduate according to research on that issue.

The class of 2018 had 76 students and 55 of them were CCR by these definitions. That is 72%. That means 21 students, or 28% were not ready. Of the 21 students who were not CCR, 12 were college bound, 3 tech. school bound, and 6 workforce bound. This is true even though our 2018 graduates had an average ACT composite score of 22.88 which ranked this class in the top 5% of the State of Wisconsin. (Ranked 13th of all the high schools in Wisconsin.)

One program we have in place to help us guide students toward being college and career ready is our mentor program. However, we have to continue to improve our ability to help each student fully examine their career dreams. Doing this really well will require the direct assistance of parents working with mentors to guide students in deepening their understanding of their career choices, and the skills necessary to achieve their dreams. The class of 2018 did not have a structured mentor program with a student to teacher ratio of 5/1 similar to what is now in place for freshmen and sophomores, and I think it shows in what appears to be somewhat unexamined career choices even as they graduated. While it is not our job to “rain on anyone’s parade” in terms of their career dreams, it is our job to guide them in assessing their personal career plans honestly and as completely as possible. There is a reason that about 50% of the students that begin college never finish, and academic readiness is a central part of that reality. The last thing we want, and the last thing parents want, is a student who goes to college for a year or so and drops out. If we can help avoid that conclusion by doing a better job of helping students honestly examine their child’s career plans, that is a worthy goal for parents and mentors working together.

Of our 12 students from the class of 2018 who going to college not fully CCR, some will likely graduate with a bachelor’s degree with hard work, but the odds are stacked against some of them as well. To be successful, this shared mentoring process must start in the freshmen year or earlier, so students can take full advantage of high school offerings as they prepare for their futures. While examining student career dreams may require some honest and direct conversations both at school and at home, it can also help some students avoid a couple costly years in college before changing paths. I hope this is an area where we all find parents and teachers can work together to guide students as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.

Have a great week.