Getting Ready for Success
Bridging the Gap between High School and College in Tacoma, Washington
It is now widely recognized that more young Americans than ever before will need postsecondary credentials in order to achieve economic self-sufficiency, which, in turn, is needed to maintain and strengthen our collective prosperity. Unfortunately, only 58 percent of students enrolled at four-year institutions graduate within six years, and only half of those who enroll in a community college hoping to earn a credential or transfer to a four-year college achieve their goal within six years. One issue is that many students enter college lacking the academic skills needed to succeed there — which forces them to take developmental (or remedial) education courses before they can enroll in college-level, credit-bearing courses. Across the nation, roughly 40 percent of undergraduates enroll in at least one developmental education course. That number is far greater for students in community college, where almost 60 percent of students enroll in at least one developmental course. Beyond these academic barriers, many students also face social barriers to successful completion of postsecondary degrees. Many low-income and minority students are the first generation in their families to attempt to attend college, and they often struggle to navigate the postsecondary entry process and college expectations once there.
There has been growing interest in programs that focus on college readiness and strengthening the rates of college matriculation and persistence (that is, remaining in school from semester to semester) for low-income students. Although not yet widely offered, a number of local college-readiness programs have been forming to explicitly support students through their transition between high school and college. As described in this eight-page brief, the Getting Ready for Success (GRS) Pilot Program, designed by the College Success Foundation (CSF) with support from MDRC — a nonprofit social and education policy research organization — includes a variety of program components for low-income students in two high schools in Tacoma, Washington. The program works to strengthen students’ college readiness through both academic and social supports, and it provides monetary incentives during the late high school and early college years to increase students’ motivation to succeed in college before, during, and after the transition from secondary to postsecondary school.