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Finding Your Postsecondary WHY: Boston Public Schools Celebrates College and Career Readiness in October

BOSTON – The COVID-19 pandemic has upended all facets of the education landscape. As schools work to provide students with application supports, it is equally important to engage them in understanding what it means to live a purpose-filled life and the key components of a self- discovery process.

October is College Month in the Boston Public Schools! This marks an exciting month of events and activities designed to encourage all students and their families to begin planning for a passion- filled life after high school as early as possible.

Throughout October, BPS and Success Boston, along with multiple nonprofit and community partners, will collaborate on a campaign to encourage students at all grade levels to begin planning for college and their career.

The goal of College Month in Boston is to showcase all of the city’s varied and helpful resources designed to get students prepared for, enrolled in, and through college.

“Though much about this school year is different, our BPS students remain the strong, resilient, young leaders of tomorrow,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. "College Month is an important time to provide our young people with college and career planning tools and information, and access to community resources to support them on their path to postsecondary success."

This October, College Month will serve as a mechanism to help students understand the importance of beginning the postsecondary planning process early and engaging their families, counselors, teachers, partners, and mentors in their journey.

Since its inception, Success Boston has celebrated tremendous wins, dramatically increasing the percentage of BPS graduates who enroll in college, as well as those who earn degrees. The six-year college completion rate for BPS graduates is now 52%, combined with an astounding 80.5% college attendance rate.

“The Success Boston partnership has greatly improved the percentage of BPS graduates enrolling in and completing college over the last decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to disrupt that progress by adding new burdens to students and families,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, which hosts the Success Boston initiative. “This year more than ever, College Month will play a critical role helping students get a robust understanding of the importance of postsecondary education and giving them the tools to act on their college and career goals.”

College Month also marks the official launch of Generation Success -- a readiness campaign that works with schools, out-of-school programs, parents and industry groups across Boston to prepare students with the skills they need for college, career and life after high school.

The campaign will engage with businesses, BPS and Success Boston throughout this month and beyond to ensure young people have the community resources they need to seek opportunities like internships, volunteer programs and college credit courses -- and achieve success in life as they define it.

Key themes and dates:

Find your WHY. During the Thursday, October 1st kick-off for College Month, the community of practitioners will be asked to not only represent their college colors and alma mater but to share short videos and written inspirational posts on their “Why” and the path to accessing their careers. The road is long and winding, and it is critical that our students understand this more now than ever, but also know there are supports along the way. Follow our social media accounts for videos, stories, graphics, and more: @SuccessBoston on Facebook and Twitter and @Success.Boston on Instagram

FAFSA completion. We know that the class of 2021 is going to face challenges that classes before them have not encountered. College Month is doubling-down on our efforts to support this class and their families in new and dynamic ways and set FAFSA completion as a measure of equity and a tool to increase college access in BPS for the Class of 2021.

Success Planning With Naviance. Our district's goal is for every high school student to engage in a post-high school planning process using a comprehensive college and career readiness platform Naviance. Naviance helps students achieve critical milestones to prepare for college or careers. Once students use the platform to identify their strengths and interests, Naviance helps them connect those interests to potential careers and plan a course of study to reach their goals, whether they are heading directly to college, entering the workforce, joining the military, or pursuing another path after high school.

Virtual events, including college fairs and panel discussions. Plans underway include:

  1. An HBCU focused virtual event.

  2. Tuition-Free Community Colleges and Two-Year Institutions

  3. A MA State and four-year Public & Private Colleges focused virtual event

  4. Exploring Options: Many Paths to a Successful Career

These events will offer students across the city the opportunity to virtually meet with and interact with representatives from colleges, non-profit organizations, and employers. Additionally, seniors will have access to financial aid experts from partner organizations to help with the completion of the free application for federal student aid, also known as the FAFSA. All of these events are designed to foster a college-going culture within BPS and the city of Boston.

Beginning the process, no matter where they are. Finally, the October 2020 College Month will serve as a mechanism to help students understand the importance of beginning the postsecondary planning process early and engaging their families, counselors, teachers, partners, and mentors in their journey towards achieving the goals and competencies outlined in the City-wide College, Career, and Life Readiness Framework.

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Success Boston: The Success Boston initiative, launched in 2008 by an innovative collaboration between the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Foundation, UMass Boston, Bunker Hill Community College, the Boston Private Industry Council and dozens of Massachusetts colleges and universities, seeks to dramatically increase college completion of Boston students. Through transition coaching and other supports, Success Boston helps students get ready, get into and get through college, and get connected successfully to careers. To date, more than 6,500 students from 12 graduating classes have been coached through Success Boston. Together, the partners have helped students to enroll in, persist in, and complete college at steadily increasing rates: the most recent data shows that more students from the Boston Public Schools are enrolling and completing college than ever, and the number of graduates from each class receiving a college credential has increased by 77% since the initiative launched over a decade ago.

 (1) https://www.tbf.org/news-and-insights/press-releases/2018/april/staying-the-course-release