Many paths, one goal: Bright spots in post-secondary success

February 25, 2019
| by Guest Contributor |

Four years of college or bust: That used to be OneGoal’s way of thinking. Heck, it even used to be my way of thinking. After all, I was ranked third in my high school class; served as class president; had completed college classes in high school. So it’s probably safe to say I was always college-bound. (Go, Blue Devils!)

And now, as the executive director for OneGoal – Metro Atlanta, an education nonprofit, college is even more top of mind. In fact, our mission is to close the college degree divide among students from low-income communities and their peers in high-income communities.

But we also recognize that college isn’t one-size-fits-all. In fact, there are many valued options for our students following high school graduation – from four-year colleges to trade schools and everything in between. We believe that every young person deserves an equitable opportunity to achieve their greatest post-secondary aspiration, and we’re determined to help make that possible.

Conversations have certainly become more strategic than when I was in high school, as some institutions have begun leveraging tools that help students identify where they’re most likely to get in based upon academic performance indicators like GPA and standardized test scores.

But in order to better position all of our students to be empowered consumers of the myriad opportunities available, the conversation must shift from match – which institutions are aligned with the quantitative components of an academic profile – to match AND fit, meaning the institutions that provide what’s needed for the qualitative aspects of a student’s identity: extracurriculars, distance from family, support services, and more.

Identifying where students can establish a deeper connection to a community, outside of just course rigor, is critical for fostering post-secondary completion, not just acceptance and enrollment.

So, in order to close the degree divide and help our students attain their highest aspirations, we’re enhancing our student-facing tools. These tools will help students accomplish the following: identify their desired match and fit criteria; create a dynamic “shortlist” of institutions and chosen criteria in an easy-to-digest format; and gain immediate insights via automated alerts based on what we know to be important in creating “best-fit lists.”

By 2020, 60 percent of jobs in Georgia will require some type of postsecondary degree or credential. By 2023, OneGoal aspires to empower approximately 2,500 Metro Atlanta students with the ability to seize one or more of these jobs by leveraging our tools – tools designed to ensure all Metro Atlanta students know what viable pathways exist to help them prepare for those opportunities. Join our efforts today and help create a more dynamic and diverse workforce for our communities.

Brooke Flowers is the executive director of OneGoal – Metro Atlanta.

This column originally appeared in a slightly different form on Learn4Life.

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