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National Center for Research in Vocational Education
University of California, Berkeley
Number 5
July 1999

Enhancing Linkages to Postsecondary Education: Helping Youths Make a Successful Transition to College


In families where higher education is valued, where parents graduate from college and the benefits of a degree are tangible, youths grow up knowing the importance of preparing for college. They appreciate why they need to engage in rigorous high school studies. However, in homes where higher education is a luxury, youths grow up having less confidence about their futures. Urban and rural youths, racial and language-minority students, and youths with disabilities are especially "at risk" (Hamilton, 1990, p. 6). Still, many of these youths aspire to go to college just like their college-bound peers, even though their chances of realizing that opportunity are diminished by conflicting personal and family life circumstances. Financial concerns are a major reason that many youths whom educators and policy makers often stereotype as the "non-college-bound" never make it to college in the first place. Issues surrounding the adequacy of high school academic preparation are also evident. For many, an over-reliance on basic courses limits college readiness because advanced math, science, and technical courses are missing from their high school programs of study. Recognizing these complexities, recent federal legislation, especially the Tech Prep Education and the School-to-Work Opportunities laws, has emphasized that many more of our nation's youths deserve the opportunity to transition from school to college, casting the net of postsecondary education more widely and equitably.

This issue of CenterPoint synthesizes what NCRVE has learned over the past decade about processes, policies, and practical approaches to forming effective linkages between secondary and postsecondary education. For years, liberal arts and sciences education at the high school level dominated the college preparatory curriculum. However meritorious, this track often engages only a small proportion of high school youths. Educational reforms such as tech prep and school-to-work are intended to integrate academic and vocational education and raise academic standards for all students. In this issue of CenterPoint we strive to reinforce the importance of creating well-conceived and integrated academic and career pathways that enhance school-to-college transition for all of America's youths. By expanding college-going opportunities, more students can attain the benefits of social mobility and economic prosperity that a college education can provide.

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