The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

University of Washington Program is Designed Well for College Success

The Dream Project is a student-initiated
>high-school outreach program that operates as a
>University of Washington course and partners UW
>students with first-generation and low-income
>high school students to assist in the college
>admissions process. Over 100 UW undergraduates
>work with over 300 juniors and seniors in seven
>area high-schools. The undergraduates attend
>class once per week for an hour and a half, and
>then travel to the high-schools for at least one
>hour per week throughout the entire school
>year. In the high-schools, juniors and seniors
>work through the entire college application
>process with the UW undergraduates, including:
>thinking about the right "fit" for college,
>studying for the SAT and ACT, preparing
>articulate personal statements, turning in three
>or more college applications, understanding and
>filling out the FAFSA, applying for
>scholarships, matriculation, and the transition into college.
>Once they have transitioned into college, many
>students will find a community-in-waiting,
>especially if they choose to come to the
>University of Washington. Similarly, other
>college campuses across the state (and the
>nation) are either starting their own Dream
>Project this year or are currently learning how
>to start one in future years. These
>communities--groups of undergrads that are
>already friends with the transitioning high
>school students--help to ensure high retention
>and graduation rates of the Dream Project
>scholars. In effect, the line is blurred
>between high school student, college student,
>and college graduate because many students who
>are involved in the Dream Project start out in
>one of the partner high schools and then join
>the Dream Project as an undergraduate
>themselves, continuing the cycle of giving back
>to their community. In this way, high school
>students can find their older peers at nearly
>any of the colleges to which they apply.
>In the UW course, undergraduates learn about
>educational opportunity and social mobility
>while gaining the skills necessary to mentor the
>high school students throughout their
>preparation for and application to
>colleges. Each week, undergraduates work with
>and learn from college admissions counselors,
>financial aid and scholarship officers, SAT/ACT
>preparation experts, and numerous faculty and
>staff who speak about mentorship, social
>justice, non-profit work, and public schooling
>issues. Also, undergraduates are the leaders of
>the program--from collaborating with the high
>schools and school districts, to creating the
>class syllabus and course readings, to fund
>raising and development efforts. The
>undergraduates hold panels with the counseling
>staff from the high schools so that they can
>better understand how to collaborate and learn
>from one another's efforts. Similarly, the
>undergraduates work with an advisory committee
>of university faculty and staff to help the
>university understand the needs and changes of
>the program and the schools with which the Dream Project works.
>The Dream Project is unique on many levels, but
>two DP achievements are particularly relevant to
>this blog. First, the Dream Project has helped
>to develop better communication between and
>among the public high-schools it serves and the
>higher education world in Washington State,
>including career/college counselors, high-school
>administrators, teachers, parents, college
>admissions counselors, university
>administrators, and university faculty and
>staff. Second, the Dream Project has induced an
>"in-reach" effect by changing the culture of the
>high schools we serve, such that the younger
>high-school students and their teachers,
>administrators, counselors and parents are
>preparing earlier and more accurately for
>college admissions. The Dream Project's
>students--undergraduates and high schoolers--are
>well aware of the "myths" of college and have
>aimed to dispel those myths wherever they occur,
>which happens to be at all levels along the P-16
>continuum. I believe that is why the Dream
>Project's dedication to collaboration and
>communication between all areas of education
>(K-12, higher education, funding partners,
>students, and parents) has been so successful.

For more information contact: Jenee Meyers ,

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