“If we give opportunity to more students, especially first-generation college students, it impacts not just them, but their families and communities.”
Every Californian benefits when our students have access to college and career training. Students who succeed in postsecondary education earn more and help bring more and better jobs to their communities. The benefits aren’t just financial, either. College graduates tend to be healthier, less likely to be caught in the justice system and more likely to vote and participate in civic life. The children of college graduates are also more likely to attain degrees themselves, making higher education an important tool for promoting generational social mobility and equitable prosperity.
We can’t improve educational outcomes for all California’s students until we acknowledge that they don’t all start off in the same circumstances. Students of color, English learners, those in the foster care system, and those who are the first in their family to attend college face more complex challenges than their peers. Too often, the way we deal with student needs is like making every bridge the same size – helpful for those close to where they want to be but insufficient for those who have a wider gap to cross. Meeting students where they are and offering targeted support creates more equitable educational journeys and ensures that all students can reach their chosen destinations.
California students must pass a series of courses known as “a-g” to be eligible to attend a California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) campus. But errors in the way school districts list these courses can lead students’ CSU and UC eligibility to be wrongly determined. This can result in inaccurate guidance about post-secondary options or even the denial of admission to qualified applicants.
Educational systems use different unique identifiers for their students, meaning information about a student can be lost as they transition from K-12 to higher education. With higher education systems moving away from standardized testing and prioritizing transcript data to determine admission and placement, it is more important than ever that colleges can match students to their K-12 transcripts.
Without clear statewide policies, districts and higher education systems have created a patchwork quilt of their own different, often conflicting standards and practices. The lack of validation and a “source of truth” means errors between systems often go undetected. As a result, the burden of navigating these incompatible systems falls upon students.
The transition to postsecondary education is complex, particularly for those who would be the first in their family to attend college. Students often make major decisions about life after high school without fully understanding what educational options and resources are available, what degrees or certifications are required for their chosen careers, and what steps must be taken to attain them.
But with an average of one counselor for every 626 students, counselors are overwhelmed. Too much time is spent on routine tasks, leaving them with less time for students with complex needs who would benefit most from their experience and expertise.
To ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed, counselors need training and curricula designed to give all students a standard baseline of guidance, and they need effective tools to identify and support students who need more help.