High school teachers prepare students for a successful future, one that usually includes going onto college or entering the workforce. Unfortunately, our teachers are doing this amid tough circumstances - increasing class sizes, diminished budgets, low pay, lack of parental involvement - all while preparing students for standardized tests and worrying about performance metrics.

One of the results of these constraints is that our students don't always feel prepared for post-secondary education. In a survey conducted by Achieve, an organization dedicated to making sure all students graduate high school ready for college, careers and citizenship, 49 percent of current college students said they experienced large gaps in one or more subjects when asked how well high school prepared them for college.1

How can you help your students feel better prepared for for higher education? These tips can help:

Make Use of Blended Learning

As of 2014, 89 percent of universities offered online courses, EdTechReview reports.2 With such a high percentage of colleges offering online learning, it makes sense to introduce students to this platform in high school. Blended learning is an education model in which part of the in-classroom, face-to-face instruction is replaced by Web-based learning and the digital delivery of content. As opposed to the traditional model, blended learning affords students an element of control over the timing, location and pace of learning. Seventy percent of students say they learn best in this environment, and 54 percent say they are more actively involved in these classes, according to EdTechReview.2

Incorporate blended learning opportunities in your classroom. Encourage students to access online forums, provide study materials online and encourage technology use in studying. The use of software and blended learning can expose students to new teaching methods and resources that help them learn more effectively.

Look for opportunities to team up with local institutions of higher education to offer more blended learning. In some cases, high schools and local colleges will allow online dual enrollment, which enables students to take online college courses while still in high school. Offering exposure to blended courses from a higher education institution can not only encourage students to apply to college, but help ease the transition from high school coursework to college coursework.

Intervene to Help Struggling Students

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found that receiving individual attention from teachers decreased the likelihood of students dropping out and increased their desire to attend higher education.3

This shows the importance of catering to students' specific needs and treating them as the individuals they are. Research student intervention plans to assure you have a structured method for all types of learners. Anticipate the difficulties students might have and take steps to solve them and prevent them in the future. Be proactive in reaching out to your students, so you can learn how best to help them succeed. By intervening to help struggling students before they disengage, teachers can help students stay on the path to graduation, and furthermore, the bridge to higher education.

Help Them With the Application Process

A recent study by the Institute of Education Sciences4 measured the validity of steps that high schools and teachers can take to increase the likelihood of success in higher education for their students. The best two ways teachers could contribute to student success in this area were:

  • Help students complete the critical steps to get into college
  • Help students apply for financial aid

Many students and their families are simply unaware of what is available to them in the realm of higher education, especially if the student's parents did not attend college or if they come from a low-income background. Educate your students and their families about available scholarships and financial aid. Hold workshops and help them fill out their FAFSA. Thoroughly explain the steps of the application process and offer to edit essays or write letters of recommendation. It may be intimidating for them to reach out to you, so reach out to them first. Let students and their families know that you are willing to help them with the many steps involved in applying for college and obtaining financial assistance.

Teachers can be proactive in helping their students in many different ways in order to ease their transition to higher education. From introducing them to new technology to providing assistance on their applications, teachers can be a helpful guide in keeping students on the path to higher education success.

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Resources: Photo Credit. (1) Rising to the Challenge Survey, Part One: Recent High school Graduates (2) Technology in the Classroom - College Edition (3) The MetLife Survey of The American Teacher: Preparing Student for College and Careers (4) Helping Students Navigate the Path to College: What High Schools Can Do