- New York's Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS) has created a college-going culture with a "College March" celebration that sees students cheered on by supporters as they mail their college applications off at the 180th Street post office, Edutopia reports.
- A number of other events precede the march during students' high school tenures, like SAT prep, campus tours, financial aid and admissions application assistance sessions, and a preview of the march when young students hold signs and cheer on their upperclassmen peers.
- According to the article, WHEELS — part of the NYC Outward Bound Schools network, which boasts a "To and Through College" model to encourage post-secondary attendance and completion — had 100% of students apply to college in 2016, with 91% of graduates enrolling and 63% of all alums making it to their junior year.
Preparing students for college — and even making it seem like an attainable goal for some students — is a challenge for many schools. According to the Center for American Progress, an estimated 40-60% of first-year students require remediation in English, math or both once they reach higher ed.
Along with approaches like the one employed by WHEELS, high schools and higher education institutions, like Staten Island's Port Richmond High School and Wagner College, have partnered in some cases to better prepare students — especially those who would be first-generation college attendees — and to build their confidence that attaining a degree is a possibility.
But it's also worth considering amid climbing student loan debt and poor college completion rates that attending a traditional four-year college isn't the best path for every student, either. Recent years have seen pushes for policies, such as free community college, expanded vocational education opportunities and apprenticeships as additional options after high school. These pathways recognize that new fields like coding might take the place of traditional blue-collar jobs that are being disrupted by automation and artificial intelligence.