My path to college and career is a narrow and unlikely success story. I went to poorly performing elementary and middle schools in San Francisco, and no one in my family went to college. A middle school math teacher urged me to participate in a small city-wide summer enrichment program, which later got me a scholarship from an elite private school-otherwise my family would never be able to afford it and even wanted to send me there. There, my academic preparation for the university is top-notch.

Even so, I almost got off the road to university. Schools are not accustomed to providing advice to first-generation students who need targeted guidance and guidance in college admissions and financial aid—and I can’t rely on the advice of parents who complete the university selection process on their own. Then, Boston University, invisible across the country, was a challenging experience. I spent several months working as a temporary job in Boston and lost a semester to enter the plan I wanted and get financial aid. The college was very supportive in the end, but the entry barrier felt high.

Later, as the person in charge of the projects that helped me, I met too many students whose dreams were frustrated by countless obstacles that hindered university and career paths.

For millions of students from low-income backgrounds, the transition to college or from high school to the labor market is a steep and sometimes insurmountable climb. This transformation looks more like a cliff: the support and structure of the high school disappear, revealing the chasm that students must somehow cross on their own.In over 4.6 million young Americans There is no work or school between the ages of 16 and 24, and now is the time to rethink whether the traditional boundaries between high school, college, and the workforce are serving a new generation of learners.

Because, although it is helpful to me, the funding program can help students fund and find their own way through selective learning opportunities. It is not a solution. It can operate near any scale, and millions are now facing the same dangerous future. Fully served learners provide the same journey as I have ever experienced. Today’s students should have multiple paths from education to career—and the educational experience that shapes the success of the workforce must begin long before graduating from high school.

In many ways, these arbitrary boundaries are Has started to blurFor example, even as early as 2010, 15% of community college freshmen (or a total of 1.4 million students) were still in high school due to the increasing popularity of dual admissions programs. In some states, this proportion is as high as 37%. Since then, many states have sought to increase double enrollment rates. In the 2018-19 school year, more than 7,100 Texas high school students received associate degrees, many of which include industry certifications.

In different states such as Indiana, New Jersey, and Louisiana, more and more students graduate from high school with associate degrees.In Massachusetts, a collaboration between a public charter school and Massasoit Community College allowed more than half of its recent Senior graduation With a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, this means that they can already transfer to many colleges and universities in their junior year.

At a time when most community colleges suffered admission losses, Vermont Community College Increased enrollment rate Through a program that provides every high school graduate with the opportunity to register for a course for free, an increase of 34%.

This “fuzziness” of secondary education and higher education may point to a new direction: a model that is neither a high school nor a community college, but a combination of the two, which can save students time and money while providing them with new Guidance support and preparation for the career. Think of it as a school that focuses on grades 11-14, combining the basic courses of grades 11 and 12 with the knowledge, skills, and certificates most needed by today’s professions.

For many education leaders and policymakers, this approach seems too radical—at least for now. However, we can still take some important steps to encourage this transition and prepare students for today’s workforce.

For example, perhaps inspired by the growth of dual enrollment, national education and labor policy makers can begin to develop a more unified approach by standardizing high school and higher education credits. They can work hard to synchronize the high school and local community college curriculum, making it easier for students to register and earn credits for both. They may also need a mentoring path into the university from the 11th grade and provide more internships and work-based learning opportunities for 16-20 year olds.

Aligning assessments with community college admissions will help ensure that more students receive higher education. For example, passing scores from statewide high school assessments may automatically trigger students to be admitted to public community colleges without the need for make-up classes. This has already happened; for example, California high school students can now use their Smarter Balanced test scores to schedule credit college courses without taking the SAT or ACT tests.

Reimagining the gap between K-12, higher education, and the workforce has been long overdue. For a long time, our education and training system has been trapped in the concept of adolescence, education and work in the industrial age. The reality is that the lines are starting to become blurred-in this case, the more blurred may be better.

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