Creating pathways to college and career

This post is sponsored by NWEA.
What factors drive—or impede—a student’s journey toward a college and career path? How can schools better guide students from low-income families toward academic and workforce success? SmartBrief spoke with John Cronin, vice president of education research at NWEA, to get answers to these questions. Here’s what he had to say.
What are the biggest obstacles keeping low-income students from college and career pathways?
Many low-income students have good academic records, but they nevertheless face a number of obstacles that middle- and high-income students may not encounter. Some are the first in their family to attend college, so they have no one with prior experience to help navigate them through the processes of meeting academic requirements, completing their application or filing for financial aid. For example, a student who wants to attend an elite college should typically enroll in Algebra I in eighth grade, so that they can take pre-calculus or calculus in high school. However, without guidance from a parent or educator, the student may not know this requirement and might miss out on the opportunity.
When low-income students talk about college completion, are they typically referring to four-year degrees? Or is does this also include two-year and certification degree programs?
The vast majority (over 85%) of middle school families (regardless of ethnicity and income) aspire for the student to complete a four-year degree, according to a 2004 United Negro College survey. We need to help these students …