Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina has developed a College Planning Toolkit — in both English and Spanish — to assist parents and students as they make the transition to college, through graduation and on to employment.
"We put together the toolkit to help identify the ways that families can be supportive throughout the process and to help understand the shifting roles of supportive groups," says Daniel Green, associate vice president for enrollment at Meredith. "This will help ensure college success and beyond."
The kit, which is available in a book or online, has been adapted in both English and Spanish. The decision to make the kit bilingual came as the result of a growing Hispanic population in North Carolina, Green says.
"We have worked quite intentionally over many years to ensure that Meredith is serving and is representative of North Carolina's rich cultural populations," he explained.
The school developed an advisory group to help bring education, cultural resources and business partners together to help improve educational opportunities for Hispanic students. The group, called ¡LevÃ¡ntate, North Carolina!, has held town hall meetings and a statewide college fair. The group's latest endeavor is the College Planning Toolkit.
The kit came as the result of students who were expressing concerns that their families were diverting their attention away from schoolwork by asking them to come home to babysit, do laundry, or work to help their families financially.
"[Students] know that their families are sacrificing quite a bit [by sending them to college], but the families were also providing additional pressures that were not helping academic progress and success," Green says. "We felt that good education for the families on ways to be supportive–but not overbearing–would be helpful."
The toolkit was developed with funding from North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. It includes five sections: research, preparing and applying to
college, paying for college, enrolling in college, navigating and thriving in college and preparing for life after college.
Meredith hopes to roll out the toolkit in addition to parent workshops, primarily "in areas where we find students are having most difficulties," Green says. Meredith is
working with high schools that have large multicultural populations of students who tend to opt out of going to college.
Although Meredith hasn't done an analysis of how the kit will improve retention rates directly, the school is hoping it will have an impact regardless. "We find that mentoring along with "knowing" our students helps to ensure our continuing retention," Green says. "The major struggle for students is financial, and we continually try to find sponsors and alternative ways to help them."
Meredith College is a liberal arts women's college established in 1891 and enrolls ~2,300 students, most of whom reside in North Carolina.