As college counselors, we’ve found it’s the middle of the road students who pose some of the greatest challenges. High achieving students with extraordinary extracurriculars, regardless of race or economic background, often have opportunities to access college preparation services and low achieving students can also access remediation services, understanding the quality and ultimate outcome of of services varies from school to school.
But, it’s those students in the middle, the B, even B+ students with average or low test scores, with talent and potential, who do not immediately stand out on the radar. They don’t do poor enough to be sent to the counselor’s office for services, yet they are neither extraordinary enough for a counselor to hear about nor savvy enough to seek out a counselor on their own. And the reality of so many public schools are the soaring student to counselor ratios which make it impossible for counselors to support everyone well and improbable many of these middle achieving students are even aware of what they don’t know in the first place. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know, thus they cannot access services they could benefit from.
This makes a case for the value of supplemental academic programs that partner with public school districts. One that provides an excellent model is The Skills Enrichment Program (SEP), a collaborative endeavor between the Pasadena Unified School District (Los Angeles County, CA) and four area private schools. SEP provides phenomenal summer programming for Pasadena Unified students with potential, drive and motivation to achieve, but who may not have the resources to access supplemental services. Students are identified and nominated in elementary school and participate in summer programs through 12th grade.
Graduates of SEP with whom I’ve had the privilege of working with span the gamete from very high achieving (perhaps as a result of SEP) to these middle achieving, yet still impressive students we’re discussing. And it’s SEP that augments the services of the public high schools so their students are armed with the skills and knowledge to be stronger candidates for college admission.