South Washington County middle schools participate in college prep programTo get more students to be successful in college, preparation has to start in middle school. That’s the philosophy behind the Ramp Up to Readiness program being launched this fall at Oltman, Lake, Woodbury and Cottage Grove middle schools.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
To get more students to be successful in college, preparation has to start in middle school.
That’s the philosophy behind the Ramp Up to Readiness program being launched this fall at Oltman, Lake, Woodbury and Cottage Grove middle schools.
The University of Minnesota is behind the program and accepted applications from only 34 middle schools. There is no grant money involved, but principals, teachers and counselors are given training and access to curriculum materials. In return, the university will get data about the academic careers of current seventh-graders to see if the efforts yield results.
The university has already done the basic research, and developed curriculum to demonstrate that preparation is the key.
The assumption behind the program is that if schools want kids to be ready for college or careers after high school, they have to start young. If you wait until 11th-grade, it’s too late, according to Becky Schroeder, Oltman Middle School principal.
Though program implementation varies from school to school, Oltman seventh-graders will get the equivalent of one semester of career readiness. Sixth- and eighth-grade students will get additional information and lessons inserted into regular classes and during the beginning of the day during time that used to be homeroom downtime.
Kathy Henderson, who teaches computer classes, also teaches the seventh-grade Ramp Up classes.
Kids do more than research careers, she said. They also learn which professions and jobs show a growing need and those where the need is waning.
In addition to learning how to set academic goals, they learn how much it costs to go college or enter a technical program and how to budget for it.
Last week, students took an inventory test on learning styles. Some students, such as Jarrett Rose, found out that he is a hands-on learner. It wasn’t a surprise, he said, because he likes to invent things.
Chase Kawohl found he learns best by listening. He plans to enlist in the Marines so he can get money to go to college to become a doctor.
Erika Samuelson, who’s thinking about a career in journalism, already knew she’s a visual learner.
Students are enthusiastic about the program, teachers and administrators said.
“They know they can do things beyond high school,” Schroeder said. “It creates a positive mindset that they can do it.”