Colleges frequently pursue partnerships with local high schools to improve college preparation and build a stronger pipeline for first-generation students, but these are often focused just on providing brief sessions either at the high school or on the college campus. Really effective partnerships involve more than just a quick one-and-done workshop.
We contacted Mary Ontiveros, vice president for diversity at Colorado State University, to share lessons learned from the success of CSU's Alliance Partnership Program and specific tips for colleges and universities looking to work in tandem with area high schools.
More than Just Your Agenda: It's About Addressing the Schools' Needs
"Don't go in with a plan. Go in to listen. Find out what's causing the problem, what barriers are keeping more first-generation students from attending college. Is it money? Is it lack of resources at the high school to provide sufficient counselors? Is it difficulty in getting parents involved? Is it concern over the rigor of the school's classes and the level of college preparation? Does the school need multicultural training for their staff and instructors to help them better relate to a certain demographic? Find out what that school's needs are. Then formulate your plan in response."
Mary Ontiveros, Colorado State U
"Realize that different schools will have different needs and a different culture," Ontiveros comments. "Let them know what you can do and what resources you can provide, but then ask them what's relevant to their needs and their obstacles."
In reaching out to area high schools, Ontiveros also recommends:
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