Preparing students for the culture of college | JoAnn Myers | TEDxABQED

Translator: Katelyn Nicholson
Reviewer: Denise RQ Good afternoon. How do we bridge the gap
between high school and college particularly for first generation
college students? To answer that question, I think we first have to consider what are
the challenges faced by these students. Among the challenges
that probably instantly come to mind would be academic challenges. And this should come to mind because what we know is that 51%
of New Mexico high school graduates upon entry to college,
require remediation. The problem with the remediation is
when the students require this support, those classes generally do not count
towards their degree fulfillment; a lot of times financial aid
will not cover those classes, but most importantly, what we know
is when students require those courses, their chances of succeeding
and graduating dwindle significantly. In 2014, a study presented to the New Mexico
Legislative Finance Committee, Indicated that when students
need a single remedial course, Their chances of graduating
with a bachelor’s degree in 6 years, drops to a 17% success rate. Add a second remedial course, and the chance of graduating
now drops to 5%. So academic preparation
is imperative for students’ success. But I want to shift your attention to something that is probably focused on
a little less than academics, and that is cultural preparedness. What do I mean by cultural preparedness? What I’m referring to is preparing
students for the culture of college; those spoken and unspoken rules,
the written and unwritten rules that govern how we navigate
our way through a college campus. And I know a little something about this. You see, I am a first-generation graduate. My parents were both
high school dropouts and teen parents. My navigation through college
was incredibly difficult. I had to make decisions
that I didn’t know what I was doing. Among those decisions
was the decision what college to go to. I went to a private college in
upstate New York that was very expensive. I choose this college for no other
reason that I didn’t know the difference. I didn’t know there was a difference
in cost between private and state tuition. I took countless classes that did not
count towards my degree fulfillment; and classes that I actually
had no interest in. Why did I do this?
I didn’t know. I had no idea that there was a sequence
of classes you were supposed to take in order to get your degree. Additionally, I didn’t know
there was a registration window. So therefore, I ended up with
what everybody else didn’t want. Perhaps the most humorous example
I can share with you was this special topics course
I took, titled, “Classic Horror Films”. (Laughter) To find the humor in this,
you would have to know that one, I was
a elementary education major. Nothing to do with my major. Secondly, I absolutely hate
any type of horror or violence. So I spent a semester analyzing
horror films from start to end. So, fast forward 20 years. I’m the principal and founder of Mission Achievement
Success Charter School; and I am very proud to say that a number of our 10th-grade students
tested college-ready as 10th graders, meaning that they were
academically prepared. However, I’m disappointed to tell you that a number
of those students failed that class. They failed the class not because
of a lack of academic preparation but because of cultural preparation. And you might think they didn’t show up
to their class, that’s not the case. They turned in a final paper,
a final research project, handwritten, on notebook paper. You can only imagine our disappointment; but the disappointment
did not lie in them, it lied in ourselves for not preparing them
for the expectations. So what do we do? How do we ensure
that this does not happen? Well, I’ll tell you what we do. Among the things that we do
is we take students on college campuses so that we bring college
to life for them, so that’s not a thought in the mind but it’s an experience
that they experience. We also paid for this experience. For every student, so that finances
do not separate students. We take them on in-state trips,
out-of-state trips, overnight trips, day trips. We visit community colleges,
private colleges, state colleges. We go to large universities
and small universities. We visit the financial aid office,
the student advisement offices. We visit lecture halls,
and dorm rooms, and dining services, and we expose students to all the services
that are available to them on a campus. So that they can make informed decisions
about which college to go to, and about what services are available. We teach them the questions to ask. Additionally, we mandate that students
take dual enrollment courses, so that they earn high school credit while simultaneously earning
college credit. And I emphasize the word mandate. Then, we learned a lesson
from last semester, and we now also mandate that students
complete a lab on our campus to support them with that work; to ensure that what they summit
is college-level work. When I reflect back
on my own experiences, I consider myself luckier
than most of today’s first generation. But I don’t think that their success
should be hinged on luck. So I call upon you, especially
my fellow first generation graduates, to take a stand. I ask you to serve as teachers,
as mentors, as guides, and as advocates to our first generation population. I believe that we can bridge that gap between high school
and college for students, but that bridge has to be built
on a sturdier foundation than luck alone. Thank you. (Applause)

  1. i went to her school in new mexico and she's an amazing principal with great intentions for her students, she has amazing ideas 💕

  2. Love the duel enrollment. A great experience for preparing for college! Also, hope there is a focus on writing skills/experience plus math and science.

  3. My boys go to her school the school is strict but my youngest son has improved so much, my older son just started and he is in 8th grade. I really want them to be prepared for college and understand the importance of higher education. I am glad they provide these resources.

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