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Helping Students Navigate the Path to College: What High Schools Can Do

By William G. Tierney, Thomas Bailey, Jill Constantine, Neal Finkelstein, Nicole Farmer Hurd

With Jeffrey Max, Christina Clark Tuttle


This guide reviews the research literature on college access and makes five recommendations for how high schools and school districts, starting as early as 9th grade, can help students navigate their way to college.

The first two recommendations focus on preparing students academically for college by offering a college preparatory curriculum and assessing whether students are building the knowledge and skills needed for college. These two recommendations reflect the belief that students are best served when schools develop a culture of achievement and a culture of evidence.

The next recommendation describes how high schools can build and sustain college aspirations by surrounding students with adults and peers who support these aspirations.

Recommendations 4 and 5 explain how high schools can assist students in completing the critical steps to college entry, including college entrance exams and college and financial aid applications.

WestEd’s Neal Finkelstein served on the expert panel for this practice guide.

Resource Details

Product Information

Format: PDF
Pages: 80
Publisher: U.S. Department of Education