Engaging Families for Student Success

It’s Never Too Early to Begin Planning for College: TTP Links Ward 8 Middle School Families with Local Higher ED

November 7, 2014

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This October, George Washington University had some new students on campus.

15594136836_575ee06fdf_oMiddle schoolers from Hart and Kramer might not yet attend seminars in Funger Hall, but after Turning the Page’s inaugural college night at GW, they know what lies ahead. Our deep partnership with the GW Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service meant parents and students could get the full experience — tour, panel, and interviews with college students.

Because Turning the Page believes families should make the most informed decisions possible about planning for college, the visit was packed with information about admissions, financial aid, and student life, and combined the expertise and experience of students and staff from three local higher ed institutions. Representatives from George Washington University, NOVA Community College, and Howard University gave a detailed description of achieving college locally.

Nearly 100 trip attendees were greeted by familiar faces —  college student mentors from the DC Reads, who’ve been leading goal setting workshops at Hart and Kramer Community Nights welcomed the group to their campus, proud to host the students they’ve been working with. One mentor from the longtime partner said the trip added a new dimension to her relationship with visiting families,  “it was exciting to see them get excited.”  With trained guides, they toured favorite haunts: Gelman Library, academic buildings, student centers, and even dorms! It was an inside view few middle schoolers get, but one crucial to connect the dots from middle to high school to higher ed.

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As one Kramer student expressed, “I learned that college is cool, you just need to know what to do.” Luckily, beginning to understand “what to do” came easy with a panel of experts.

Middle schoolers peppered school officials and students from GW, Howard, and NOVA with questions about choosing majors, success in high school, finding supportive communities in college, being scared to apply, and the rudiments of financial aid. Question after question played on the central theme: what would college be like for me?

 For many parents, the night provided a new dimension to ongoing conversations. In fact, 87% of parents said they felt informed about college opportunities.  One Kramer parent said she would use the night to “continue to have the never ending discussion with my children about their futures.” Every parent could find information beneficial to planning for future success.

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Thanks to our partnership with the GW Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, and collaboration with NOVA and Howard, Hart and Kramer families took a giant step toward unpacking a complex, multiyear process. But parents were palpably enthusiastic: 87% described feeling comfortable supporting education beyond high school. And Turning the Page will be there along the way.