Pre-college programs broaden horizons and create a college-going culture

Pre-college programs serve an important purpose for postsecondary institutions and communities by offering K-12 students opportunities to prepare academically and socially for higher education.

It’s widely recognized that the United States needs to increase the education level of its citizenry in order to better compete in the international knowledge-based economy. Studies show that 62 percent of Michigan’s jobs will require postsecondary education by 2018, yet fewer than one quarter of Michigan high school graduates are adequately prepared for college. Through pre-college programming, postsecondary institutions significantly assist with the effort to better prepare students for college. This is Part 1 of a three-part series about pre-college program efforts in Michigan.

The term “pre-college” refers to college access and preparation programs. Pre-college programs can be found at postsecondary institutions across the country. Pre-college programs offer K-12 students opportunities to prepare academically and socially for higher education, provide a pipeline for K-12 students, and expose students to campus living and learning experiences. Learning in a university setting can further increase motivation toward and preparation for higher education among youth. In Michigan, pre-college/university summer camps were offered by 50 different four-year public, four-year private and two-year public postsecondary institutions in 2014. This tremendous array of offerings can be expected for 2015 with promotion for most beginning in late winter.

Pre-college programs touch many families and are a valuable service to communities as they help create a college-going culture. Youth participants get excited about going to college, think about future career fields and gain important life skills that can help them transition successfully to college when the time comes.  Students and their families also become more informed about the host institution and begin to consider what type of college or university is appropriate for them.

Pre-college programming also offers significant benefits to postsecondary institutions as they can serve as a powerful recruiting tool and can be used promote specific majors. Providing exposure that develops interest and skills in a specific area of study gives academic departments an advantage in identifying talented prospective students early on. Another benefit to postsecondary institutions is that pre-programs serve as an important source of revenue during the summer months when the undergraduate student population is reduced.

Pre-college programs build developmental assets, increase college aspirations and improve college readiness. This benefits Michigan’s workforce development and long-range economic impact. Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 in this Michigan State University Extension series.

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