Boston Public Schools declares October College Month
BOSTON - October is "College Month" in the Boston Public Schools (BPS), officials announced today, featuring activities and resources to help city students pursue higher education. In partnership with area colleges and universities, as well as community organizations, the district offers college access programs and services throughout the year, but the month of October is a particularly active and important time for students of all ages to learn more about continuing their education after high school.
"Every student in Boston who wants to go on to college should have the opportunity to do so," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "The City of Boston and the Boston Public Schools are committed to providing students and their families with the information and the encouragement they need to make the dream of higher education come true."
According to a study conducted by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies, nearly 71% of BPS graduates go on to two- or four-year colleges, which is higher than the national average for urban and suburban districts combined.
"Boston Public Schools graduates have a strong track record of continuing their education after high school," said Elizabeth Reilinger, Chairperson of the Boston School Committee. "We have to ensure that even more students and their families realize that college is accessible and affordable, and that they take the necessary steps to earn a post-secondary degree."
"For our students to be competitive in today's workforce, a college degree is essential," said Superintendent Carol Johnson. "That's why Boston high schools are preparing students not only to earn a high school diploma but to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in higher education and beyond."
According to a Northeastern study, employees with a bachelor's degree earn an average of nearly $1.4 million more during the course of their careers than their peers with only a high school diploma.
The award-winning Boston Public Schools Career and College Guide provides students and families with information about the college application process, financial aid, the transition from high school to college, and numerous resources for assistance and support. The guides are being distributed to schools, libraries, community centers, and other locations.
Other activities and events during the month of October include:
- On October 17, all 10th and 11th grade BPS students will take the PSAT at no cost. The district has offered free participation in the PSAT for all BPS sophomores and juniors since 2004. The PSAT measures critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills and writing skills. The test provides students and educators with important data about academic strengths and areas that need improvement in skills necessary for college study. This test also helps to prepare students for the types of questions that appear on the SAT, which is an important factor in the college application process. Students who take the PSAT also may enroll to receive free access to MyRoad.com, an on-line college and career planning tool provided by the College Board. The PSAT also serves as the qualifying test for top performing 11th grade students to receive financial assistance through the National Merit Scholarship program.
- Several upcoming college and career fairs provide students and their families with opportunities to learn more about particular colleges, as well as the application process, financial aid, and other important considerations for higher education. Many individual Boston high schools also will host college fairs on site this month.
- Boston schools at all levels - kindergarten through high school - will coordinate school and classroom college awareness activities to help students and families focus on and prepare for higher education. The district has declared Friday, October 26 as "Represent Your Alma Mater" Day, when all teachers, principals, central office staff and other employees are encouraged to wear apparel representing the college from which they graduated and to conduct classroom lessons and activities about going to college. The day is designed to foster conversations among students and adults about the college experience and to reinforce the message that a college degree is an important component of career success. From October 16-18, TERI College Access will join area colleges/universities and community partners in "Get Ready for College" Day - with early-college awareness discussions in every BPS 8th grade classroom for one class period. Students receive encouragement to pursue higher education and information about preparing for college and career even before high school.
Numerous private and public scholarships, as well as student loans and other forms of financial aid, are available to students to help cover the costs of tuition and expenses. In 1994, Mayor Menino created the City of Boston Scholarship Fund to provide tuition assistance to successful graduates with financial need. Since then, the fund has awarded more than $700,000 in scholarships to help hundreds of Boston students pursue post-secondary education. For application forms and deadlines, visit www.cityofboston.gov/mayor/scholarship/.
The City of Boston also developed an on-line College Guide to help families navigate the college application process. The site includes a directory of scholarship opportunities for students: www.bostonscholarshipguide.com. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has developed a similar site, MassCIS (Career Information System), that enables students at various levels to match their fields of interest with educational requirements, colleges and universities offering relevant degrees, and financial aid information: http://masscis.intocareers.org/.