Bridging the gap between high school and college

American University attracts high school students to its summer programs.

American University attracts high school students to its summer programs.

At many high schools across the country, the end goal is clear: college. Teachers use it to motivate their students. Parents sometimes even choose schools based on their track record in sending students to selective colleges.

Still, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the majority of high school students don’t go on to receive a college degree — and there is a widespread opinion that high schools are to blame.

“I think [high school] teachers are too worried about having their kids get good test scores,” said Kevin Goodwin, a rising junior at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring Md. “College teachers don’t have that problem.”

Many complain that high schools focus too heavily on teaching to standardized tests and do not teach students some of the basic skills they need in college. Fortunately, some institutions share this belief and are trying to solve this problem.

On example is the K16 Bridge Program, which operates under the belief that teaching students from an early age that the goal is to graduate from college rather than simply be able to get in helps them become more successful. The program works with public schools and colleges to help its students understand the workings of both school systems.

“We work with about 10 community colleges and about 100 high schools to help an estimated 40,000 students,” said Chris Piercy, founder of The K16 Bridge Program. “We try to increase the number of kids who go on to receive their post-secondary education.”

This program is not the only one working to bring the two systems closer together. The University of Texas at Austin has a similar strategy. By following students from kindergarten through college, the university hopes to teach its students college skills from an early age. In the future, these organizations may be found in schools all across the U.S., and they may have an impact on the number of students going on to receive college degrees.