Reaching Higher

Create a school environment, policies, and teacher expectations that support all students’ pursuit of a postsecondary education.


  1. Increase percentage of students with expectation of achieving a postsecondary degree or certificate.
  2. Increase percentage of parents/families who expect their students to achieve a postsecondary degree or certificate.
  3. Increase percentage of students that school staff expects to achieve a postsecondary degree or certificate.


Create college-going identities among students. 
  • Incorporate social, emotional and cognitive developmental theories.
  • Have students explore their “possible selves” – the selves they hope to become, expect to become, and fear becoming; help them develop strategies for moving beyond their fears and reducing the likelihood of negative outcomes.
  • Encourage students to identify their gifts with strengths-based asset mapping, specifically in areas that inform their self-concept using questions such as “What makes you feel successful?” or “What have you done to support your own success?”
  • Have students “try on” the role of college student through on-college-campus experiences and using college-like practices  in high school activities, such as creating syllabi and course websites for high school courses.


Develop a college-going culture in schools and consistently communicate the expectation of higher education.
  • Incorporate preparing students for postsecondary options into school mission statements.
  • Sponsor activities such as college door wars.
  • Post information about colleges attended by teachers and other staff.
  • Prominently display postsecondary plans of all graduating seniors.
  • Celebrate academic achievements as much as athletic ones.
  • Create partnerships with postsecondary institutions that help to create high expectations and clear pathways to postsecondary education.
  • Expect teachers to incorporate postsecondary education themes in lessons and homework assignments.
  • Staff and school messaging expressly communicate expectation of excellence and high performance.


All staff and faculty reinforce the expectation that college preparation is a goal for every student.
  • Prepare all school personnel to coach students to take the right classes necessary for their postsecondary goals.
  • Explore differences in expectations among students, parents and teachers; work to right discrepancies.
  • Teachers exhibit a college-going attitude toward every student.
  • Ensure that all staff and faculty tell students that they can attend and achieve their postsecondary education goals.


Emphasize goal-setting, while also finding short term benefits.
  • Develop educational plans that include postsecondary options with all 8th grade students.
  • Work with students to break long-term and large goals into smaller sub-goals.
  • Teach youth to become adept at developing alternative or multiple pathways to the same goal.
  • Help students envision future goals in the context of current realities, including their challenges and needs, then help them develop strategies for overcoming potential obstacles.