Success Stories: Helping More WA Students Succeed After High School

Shelzy Juta is a business student at South Seattle College. She didn’t always think college was for her, but Juta’s Seattle specialist Promise offered her the resources she needed to keep going. Juta, a first-generation student who aspires to own a business, says her college experience taught her that “I’m really smart.”

Achieving such confidence is one of the reasons Juta and her Seattle peers are successful through the Seattle Promise program, one of many efforts across the state to boost enrollment and persistence in post-secondary education. . This boost is absolutely necessary.

Increasingly, jobs in Washington State are filled with people with a high school diploma, such as a diploma, apprenticeship, or certificate. In fact, the vast majority of jobs in Washington will require a degree in the years to come. But, based on estimates for the high school class of 2017, less than half – just 41% – of high school students in Washington are expected to graduate by the age of 26.

To prepare young people for success in their careers and communities, partners from education, nonprofits and businesses are working together to help more students enroll and graduate. Initiatives to increase support for students navigating post-secondary systems and to provide opportunities to earn college credit while in high school are just two examples of how Washington colleges and universities are striving to better. support a more diverse group of students on their way to a degree.

Seattle Promise: Resources for Navigating and Paying for College

Achieving higher graduation rates depends on more post-secondary enrollments and greater persistence among Washington high school graduates. In 2018, Seattle voters approved a tax to create and support Seattle Promise, a program that covers tuition for Seattle public high school graduates at Seattle colleges for up to two years, or the first 90 credits of a student’s first degree.

Seattle Promise also offers flexible funding through scholarships for books, transportation, housing, and more for students with financial need. But it’s not all about the money. Support and key guidance begins in students’ first year of secondary school and continues until a student has graduated or transferred to a four-year college. The combination of advice and financial support works.

“Seattle Promise’s retention and completion rates surpass those of all Seattle Colleges students,” as well as nationwide benchmarks, says Melody McMillan, Seattle Promise senior executive director at Seattle Colleges. “We don’t just help students get to college, but persevere and succeed. Ongoing, individualized guidance throughout a student’s time in the program can make a difference for students like Juta, who said the resources provided by her specialist have helped her keep the course in her first class. when she wanted to stop.

Any Seattle public school graduate can take advantage of the Seattle Promise, but the paperwork can be a challenge for even the most organized families. Seattle Promise helps students and families with applications, admissions, and federal and state financial aid forms. With that help, nearly 90% of Seattle pledge candidates in fall 2021 completed their financial aid application, compared to 48.6% for the Washington state high school class in 2021. From plus, half of all seniors eligible for the Seattle Pledge applied, and nearly 60% of applicants enrolled in a Seattle community college.

The Washington Department of Education and Early Learning recently reported a three-year graduation rate of 37% for the Seattle Promise 2018 cohort, exceeding the national three-year average completion rate of 28. % reported by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Double credit: giving high school students a good start

Wenatchee Valley College (WVC) wanted to extend the pre-college experience to its full range of services, which includes 18 school districts over 10,000 square miles. As a result, the college has strived to develop a collection of dual credit programs for high school students, some starting as early as ninth grade.

Dual credit programs allow students to earn high school and college credits at the same time. In the past year alone, 198 students from 18 school districts earned an associate’s degree from WVC in addition to their high school diploma.

WVC continues to focus on growing three double credit opportunities in partnership with regional high schools:

  • Running Start: High school and college credit for students taking classes on the WVC campus. Participation in Running Start via WVC increased by almost 50% between the 2015-2016 school year and the 2020-21 school year.
  • College in the High School (CIHS): sophomores, juniors, and seniors receive WVC credits for approximately two dozen courses taught on the high school campus.
  • Vocational and Technical Education (CTE): Students with a B or better in some high school technical and vocational courses can earn high school and college credits in 10 career-oriented streams, such as engineering technology , criminal justice, agriculture and business / accounting.

Often, these courses improve the skills and confidence students need to enter and complete college, save money by providing free or reduced college credits, and reduce the time it takes to earn a degree. National research indicates that students who earn college credits while in high school are more likely to graduate from high school, persevere in a second year of post-secondary education, and earn a bachelor’s degree in four years.

Dual credit offers also remove barriers to college. For example, traveling long distances to college campuses could be a challenge. However, CIHS and CTE students can earn credits at their local high school. “We have students who graduate for two years without leaving their hometowns,” says Dr Jim Richardson, president of WVC, which gives great credit to K-12 partners such as Bridgeport High School, one of the top contributors. more efficient WVC.

These Seattle and Wenatchee efforts – from financial aid to one-on-one counseling and college credit opportunities in high school – are potential models for other regions and partnerships that can break down barriers and help more students to. get degrees and make big dreams come true. “This is my dream job, telling students and families that ‘yes, college is for you,’ says McMillan. “The program is a winning model for students and a transformative for higher education.

Partnership for learning, The Washington Roundtable Education Foundation, brings together business leaders and education partners to improve our state’s education system, so that Washington students are prepared to pursue the career paths of their choice. Learn more about

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