College Material

All students are college material

24

Planting the seeds for college

In May, 2007, a parent explained to me, “We are going to transfer our son to another school. He’s made a remarkable turnaround at BART and is now doing really well in his classes. But he’s really not college material.” What?! He’s a good student, but not college material? How is that possible?

Frankly, it’s not. He was college material, but this parent had an image of a college student that didn’t match her son. In a county where only 30% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher (and arguably, this number is lower for BART’s immediate area), there are many parents who may have a misguided image of what “college material” is.

This is one of the most significant and complicating factors in our jobs as educators in Berkshire County. How can we prepare our students for a college education, when neither they nor their parents share our vision for their future? We can create the path for students to get to college with the necessary skills, but it takes hard work and commitment to make it happen: the student’s hard work, and the parents’ commitment to support their child’s efforts. The student who doesn’t believe s/he is college material will ask, why bother working so hard?

We’re proud of BART’s results so far – 100% of our graduates have been accepted into college! But not all students have gone to college after graduating from BART, and it’s not because they didn’t know they were college material. In fact, they proved they were during their senior year when they passed their required college course and were accepted into college.

And importantly, not all students who entered BART graduated from BART – in fact, too often we are disappointed by students leaving because “it’s too hard.”

That’s our next challenge. We have built a school with a true college-preparatory curriculum and the supports in place for any student willing to work hard. Now we have to help students and their families understand that BART’s goal for them – college – is a realistic one.

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