Creating College Ready Communities: Preparing NYC’s Precarious New Generation of College Students

The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School announces the release of:

Creating College Ready Communities: Preparing NYC’s Precarious New Generation of College Students

Educators in New York City are focused like never before on how to get more students to enroll in college and ensure their place in the nation’s high-skilled economy. A large majority of students at every income level say they want to go to college—and more and more of them are going to college. The number actually completing a college degree, however, remains stubbornly low.

Merely getting students in the college door is not enough. How can New York prepare most students to succeed in college? Researchers at the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School explored this question in the city’s low-income neighborhoods, spending four years in 14 schools, learning how and why some students finish high school, go to college and succeed–and so many others fail.

Since 2010, New York City has been at the forefront of the college access movement, setting new standards and holding principals accountable for how many of their students go to college. The Center’s research shows there is still much work to be done:

  • Academics: A majority of students in New York City high school struggle with poor reading skills, preventing them from using textbooks and doing longer research papers. Only 25 percent of eighth graders met state standards for reading in 2013.
  • Preparation: Many high schools struggle to provide the essentials of a college preparatory curriculum.
  • Rigor: In surveys, both students and teachers expressed frustration with the singular focus on preparing all students for the state Regent’s exams.
  • Culture: A majority of students surveyed were unaware that colleges look at their freshman and sophomore transcripts. College-focused guidance often begins too late for many students.
  • Finances: Low-income students rely on a patchwork of grants and loans; applying for this money is complicated and often overwhelming for families and school staff.
  • Community: Nonprofits and neighborhood organizations have been a crucial factor in supporting thousands of aspiring college students—but connecting them to the schools requires hard work and more resources.

This study is the result of four years of site observations, surveys and focus groups conducted for the evaluation of “College Ready Communities,” a foundation-funded college readiness initiative that partnered public schools with community development corporations and advocacy organizations.

Center researchers also interviewed hundreds of educators, guidance counselors, college experts, policymakers, students, parents and nonprofit leaders. The report offers policy recommendations to the mayor and the city and state Education Departments.

Please click here to get more information about the report.

Please click here to immediately download the PDF.

A print version is also available. You may contact Kim Nauer if you would like to be mailed a copy.

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