Over the 35-year period between 1975 and 2010, the rate of immediate college enrollment after high school ranged from a low of 49% in 1979 and 1980, to a high of 70% in 2009. The significant part of this increase occurred most recently from 2001 to 2009. (NCES)Post-secondary preparation is pertinent to the success of the high school graduate. While many students may say that they started off high school a little weak, there are many more that are starting high school strong; with a graduation plan in action as freshmen.

School administrations typically provide information on post-secondary options through educational institutes visits, post-secondary informative materials and planned college visits. A student’s grades and test scores (i.e. SAT or ACT) may narrow the options for a graduating student if it’s not up to par for entry into a college/technical program. Continuous monitoring of grades by educators, administrators, counselors, and parents through ninth to twelfth grade can prevent many students from being discouraged to attend college. In the state of Florida, programs such as and Florida Virtual Campus offer comprehensive programs to guide high school students in career planning. Both programs aid in the areas of career assessment, suggested course selection in high school, and allows the student to communicate with an academic advisor for assistance. In the state of Florida there a few graduation options offered such as the 4-year, 24-credit standard diploma, 3-year, 18-credit college prep diploma, 3-year, 18-credit career prep diploma, AICE diploma, and IB diploma. (Florida Virtual Campus)

Florida has over 14 different scholarship and grant programs to help you pay for college. One of the most recognized programs is the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. It has been made possible by proceeds from the Florida Lottery. This money can be used at a Florida university, college, or even a career and technical program (Florida Virtual Campus).

Mentally, a high school graduate must transition their mind set from high school to college and/or technical school. Various colleges/technical schools have extracurricular clubs that provide outreach to high school students. In addition to campus tours and orientation, all post-secondary institutes offer an extension of care in mental health counseling, career counseling, and medical care. Traditionally, students embark on a right of passage in life while pursuing their future career goals.



Sequestration Hearing

Only one-quarter of high school seniors who took the ACT college admissions test this year scored high enough to be considered ready for college or the workforce.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the finding “truly disturbing” in a statement to The Huffington Post. “This report demonstrates that we must be honest about our students’ performance and implement higher standards if we’re serious about improving educational outcomes,” he said.

A report released Wednesday by the company that makes the ACT said 54 percent of 2013 high school graduates took the test. The ACT, a competitor to the SAT, measures college readiness on four benchmarks: English, reading, science and mathematics. Only 26 percent of students who took the test met all four benchmarks. Sixty-four percent hit the English goal, 44 percent made the mark in reading, 44 percent ranked in mathematics and 36 percent reached the science benchmark.

The results have been roughly the same since 2009. “We haven’t made any significant gains over the last few years,” Jon Erickson, president of ACT’s education division, said in an interview Tuesday. “We need to make greater gains with ethnic minority groups.”

The results foreshadow trouble as states prepare to implement the Common Core State Standards, a set of educational goals that holds students accountable to theACT’s specific definition of college and career readiness. By the end of the new school year, states that have agreed to teach Common Core will replace current standardized tests, considered by most educators to be watered down and easy — with challenging Common Core exams.

As a consequence, states will likely see a drastic drop in standardized test scores, asNew York, already teaching Common Core, did earlier this month. Common Core test results likely will be even worse than those in the ACT report. The ACT generally tests college-bound students, who tend to be better academic achievers than peers.

“High schools are lying about what they’re delivering to students,” said Mark Schneider, a vice president of the research nonprofit American Institutes for Research who previously oversaw the federal government education research arm. “How many students are college-ready when they come out? It’s a lot less than the 75 percent of students who are graduating.”

The No Child Left Behind Act, which required schools to meet goals on standardized testing to receive federal money, “let states set standards low, and … they downright lied about proficiency,” Schneider said.

ACT defines college preparedness as having a 50 percent or higher chance of earning a B in a college course, or having a 75 percent or greater chance of earning a C. Erickson said ACT arrived at the definition by analyzing survey data collected from American colleges.

How Ready Are American Kids For College? | Create infographics

Mike Cohen, the president of Achieve, a nonprofit organization contracted to help states write Common Core standards, said Common Core should help students perform better on exams like the ACT. “ACT expectations correspond pretty closely to where the Common Core ended up,” Cohen said. “Common Core will give students a higher likelihood of entering college and succeeding in first-year courses.”

In 31 states, at least 40 percent of high school seniors took the ACT. But more than half of students met three or more of the test benchmarks in only two of those states, the report said. In eight of the states, from 40 percent to 49 percent of graduates met three or four of the goals.

“In no state did more than 56 percent of ACT-tested graduates meet three or four benchmarks,” the report said. The scores closely correlated with the schools the students attended, the courses they took, the grades they earned, and their parents’ education, which is often a proxy for income.

This year’s tested group is the most diverse in the test company’s history, Erickson said.

Duncan said increasing diversity shows more students are taking steps to apply to college. But most minority students fared far worse than their white and Asian peers. Fewer than half of African-American, Hispanic and American Indian students met any of the benchmarks. The report said students across these ethnic groups generally have similar educational aspirations.

“Eighty-eight percent of the students want to go on to some significant higher education, but their skill level suggests they’re going to have some issues there,” Erickson said.

The report does not link students’ scores to their life outcomes, which means it is impossible to know for sure whether these benchmarks are related to economic productivity. Erickson said the ACT is working to connect that data.

ACT’s methodology has some skeptics.

“It’s like pointing a shotgun at a football field,” said Anthony Carnevale, a Georgetown University professor whose research on workforce skills has been cited by Duncan and other Common Core proponents. “The things mentioned in the ACT subject exams don’t show up in tasks and activities of jobs. Any jobs. The one place where you’ll need to know Algebra II is if you’re teaching it.”

The report’s premise, Carnevale added, is an example of correlation and not causation. “If you take these courses, you are more likely to go to college, because the colleges require you to take these courses,” Carnevale said. “And if you do well in high school and on the ACT, you go to college. And if you graduate from college, you’re more likely to get a job. But these are all procedural requirements.”

That system, Carnevale added, reproduces the privilege and disadvantages inherent in class and race. “The relationship between your ACT score and job skills is just not there,” he said.

ACT’s Low College Readiness Rate Foreshadows Common Core Shock.


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) —The school’s name may be Mudd, but its diplomas pay off like gold.

A decade into their careers, graduates with a bachelors degree from Harvey Mudd College, earned an average of $143,000 a year, making them the highest paid graduates of any school in the nation, according to an annual survey by PayScale that tracked salary trends for graduates of 1,016 U.S. colleges and universities.

Like many of the other schools topping PayScale’s list, Claremont, Calif.-based Harvey Mudd college has a strong presence in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies, all fields that pay well post-graduation, said Katie Bardaro, PayScale’s lead economist.

Filling out the rest of the top 10 were the United States Naval Academy, California Institute of Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology, Babson College, Princeton University, the United States Military Academy (at West Point), Stanford University, Harvard University and Brown University.

Graduates from these schools earned an average mid-career salary of $124,300, up 1.5% from last year. Ivy Leaguers, with their tight alumni networks and prestigious reputations among recruiters, and engineering school grads were the highest earners of this group, PayScale found.

The highest starting salaries were claimed by graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and West Point at $77,100 and $74,000, respectively. But those figures were typically for jobs taken after grads served five years of required military service post-graduation, said Bardaro. Also boosting pay: Military academies typically feature strong engineering programs, and grads can gain crucial work experience during their service years, she said.

Outside the military, graduates from Harvey Mudd earned a starting average salary of $73,300, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology grads earned $68,600.

The lowest mid-career salaries were earned by graduates at several campuses of for-profit University of Phoenix, as well as Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., Alabama-based Faulkner University and Bethel University in Tennessee, according to PayScale. Graduates of the bottom 10 schools on PayScale’s list earned an average salary of $45,240 10 years into their careers.

Which majors pay off?

Spurred on by the energy exploration boom, petroleum engineers were the most highly paid, according to PayScale. Ten years into their career, these engineers earned an average of $160,000, 33% higher than the next highest degree — actuarial mathematics, which earned an average of $120,000 a year.

Filling out the top five majors were nuclear, chemical and aerospace engineering degrees. Of the 15 highest paid majors, only one, government, didn’t fall into one of the STEM categories.

Grads with degrees in child and family studies earned the lowest average pay, at $37,000 a year,10 years into their careers, followed by elementary education ($45,300) and social work ($46,600).

Money isn’t everything, of course, and PayScale also asked respondents if their jobs were meaningful, that is, whether “they make the world a better place.”

Nurses ranked their job the most meaningful, while those in special education, medical technology and sports medicine also rated their jobs highly.

Meanwhile, a small percentage of workers in film production, fashion merchandising, fashion design and advertising felt their job was meaningful.

There was little correlation, however, between how meaningful a job is and job satisfaction. “Job satisfaction is more tied to salary,” she said.

Basically, PayScale found: the more money people make, the better they like their job.

The PayScale survey collected responses from 1.4 million workers and reported findings only from those with bachelor’s degrees — not advanced degrees — employed full-time in civilian jobs in the United States. It ranked schools by the median salary earned by graduates at least 10 years into their careers and by starting salaries.

Read more: