Encouraging Students to Aim Higher
Many outstanding students from educationally and economically under-resourced communities do not even apply to the nation’s best universities — despite the extreme likelihood not only of being admitted but also of receiving generous financial aid that often makes it less expensive than attending less-selective colleges (Hoxby & Avery, 2013).
Some 72 percent of students in America’s most competitive higher education institutions are from the top socioeconomic quartile, while only 3 percent hail from the bottom quartile, according to research from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
The report went on to note that: “High-achieving students who attend more selective schools graduate at higher rates, earn higher incomes, and are more likely to pursue a graduate degree. In other words, where you go to school matters.”
USC Bovard Scholars is designed to help level the playing field, encourage underserved students to aim higher and provide the support necessary to hit that target.
Bolstering an Overburdened Guidance System
The average ratio of high school students to guidance counselors in California public schools is an alarming 826:1, according to a 2013 report from the American Counseling Association. Students may receive only minutes of time with their drastically overworked counselors.
Further, increasing numbers of students from families unable to afford private college counseling are basically abandoned without a chart for steering their futures. What are general education requirements? What does it mean to declare a major? How does university differ from high school? Which majors are best for what careers? These and other crucial questions go unanswered at many high schools.
Coaches for USC Bovard Scholars provide the one-on-one guidance essential to helping you understand and navigate the complex college admissions process.
Focusing Dreams to Achieve Reality
How do we expect young people to dream if they don’t know what to dream about? It is increasingly challenging for students to identify, assess and act upon their career options as they plan for college and their ultimate futures.
Opportunities for career exploration give high schoolers broader exposure to the working world they will one day enter, while helping them align their career goals with the appropriate academic pathways to help achieve them. Career exploration experiences and opportunities also have been shown to improve academic performance and persistence, motivating students to graduate with the skills they need for continued success in their careers and lives.
For all of these reasons and more, career exploration and planning is a pivotal component of the USC Bovard Scholars program.
Listening to Students
In a Pell Institute study, first-generation college-bound students identified three crucial steps along the pipeline that were most helpful in successfully transitioning from high school to college:
- raising aspirations for college — including connecting academic pursuits to job and career interests, and perceiving themselves as college material
- navigating the college admissions process — including starting early, taking it step by step, learning how to pay and getting the family involved
- easing the initial transition to college by preparing academically, being acclimated to the college environment and helping students manage the financial aspects of higher education
This study echoed our own conversations with first-generation college students, and we built the USC Bovard Scholars program specifically to address these concerns and opportunities.