I recognize that going to college is not necessarily the best choice for everybody. However, I also think it’s important for students — both our English Language Learners and those in the “mainstream” to be knowledgeable about college options so they can make a decision with all the needed information.

In the majority of our home visits to parents, we’ve found that parents might theoretically be interested in having their children attend college, but are very uncertain about many of the “how’s” — tests that need to be taken, ways to make it financially feasible, etc. Many also have concerns about their kids going to a school far way, and the idea of them doing it for four or five years “when we need money now.” Finally, since many ELL’s don’t pass the English portion of the California High School Exit Exam, they don’t end-up with a high-school diploma, and don’t necessarily believe that college is still an option (it is, especially with our local Community College).  All these issues are understandable, given that college is outside the experience of so many of our families.

Given these issues, I’ve begun meeting with Leticia Gallardo, an exceptional counselor at our school, to develop a plan to get our students and their families considering these questions now — when they’re in the ninth-grade — and not wait til later in their school career. It’s a simple one, and I’d be interested in getting feedback and other suggestions from readers about their own experiences with this issue.

I wanted to do something that could be easily integrated in our classes, be done over the course of the school year, and not take up too much time — a handful of class periods. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:

In the next week or two, have students develop questions they have about college. In addition, part of the assignment will be to have them get questions from their parents, too.

Next, have them begin to research the answers to those questions. One good source will be The Best Sites For Encouraging ELL’s To Attend College. They would write up those answers, share them with their parents, and also write about their parents’ response.

Thirdly, students would write about the types of careers they might want to consider going into and ask their parents to share their own thoughts about what they might want their kids to do. In home visits, often parents seem surprised at this question and appear to have never thought about it before.

After that, students will research the different careers and the kind of formal education that would be required in order to enter them. The Best Websites For Students Exploring Jobs & Careers is a good source for this kind of information. Again, they would write up what they learned, share it with their parents, and get a response from them.

We’d end-up with a visit to a local four-year university, which would include separate orientations for students and parents.

What do you think? What might be missing? How could we make it better — without increasing the time commitment by much more?