Course to College is program to support high schools in building a college-going culture through five steps:
The Iowa Department of Education provides the support and resources for schools to cultivate a college-going culture from college preparedness through the transition to higher education. High schools that build a strong college-going culture are more likely to have students who pursue postsecondary education.Back to top
What is college preparedness?
As early as elementary school, it is important to begin preparing students to think about what they want to do when they complete high school. This can be done in various ways, such as college and career fairs, hosting guest speakers and panels, including younger students in activities, and coordinating college visits.
Why is college preparedness important?
College awareness and exploration are essential on a student's path to postsecondary success. By exploring college programs and career options, students ensure their academics and extracurricular involvement position them to enter and succeed in a college that will meet their academic, social, and emotional needs. Early college and career exploration leads students to:
- Have time for more than one campus visit to the college they are interested in.
- Choose colleges that offer programs in their desired areas of study.
- Learn about financial aid options in advance, allowing more time for families to prepare.
- Apply to colleges and universities that are an academic match and a good college fit.
Alarmingly, qualified first-generation, low-income, underrepresented students are less likely to apply to college and more likely to under match—a term to describe students who apply to or attend a college that is less selective than their academic ability would indicate. As a result, these students are less likely to persist and complete college degrees.
How does Course to College support college preparedness?
Course to College programming enhances district plans, provides strategies to build a college-going culture, and supports school staff in coordinating exploration opportunities. Schools participating in the Course to College program receive supportive resources and materials through a Shared Resource Folder and technical assistance from Iowa College Aid to best use these resources. Resources for college preparedness include weekly collaboration calls with other schools, a campus visit toolkit, a match and fit worksheet for students, and more.
How do Iowa high schools support college preparedness?
- Build college and career preparation into all grade levels.
- Design lesson plans or class sessions to introduce different careers.
- Invite guest speakers and host a panel discussion in the classroom or as an assembly.
- Coordinate college and job site visits.
- Invite college and career reps to host booths at a college/career fair.
- Involve all district staff in school-wide events (such as "Wear Your College T-shirt Day").
- Invite all students to attend school-wide events.
- Involve younger students in supporting older students by making posters, writing letters, etc.
What is applying for college?
As part of a national effort to assist students, especially those from underserved populations, Course to College programming promotes a statewide college application campaign. Participating schools offer time throughout the school day for students to complete an application and assist them in navigating the admissions process.
Why is applying for college important?
Submitting an application is one of the first steps in getting to college and an important indicator of whether a student will enroll in postsecondary education upon graduation. Applying lets students know what their opportunities are and can help in their decision-making process. While applying, it is important to keep in mind colleges that are both a good match and fit for a student to prevent under matching, especially among underrepresented students.
How does Course to College support applying for college?
Course to College programming supports a college application campaign in the month of October. The campaign is a specific time period where participating high schools offer time and space for students to complete an application during the school day. Many schools accomplish this through offering time to complete an application within a required senior course to ensure they reach all of their seniors.
Schools participating in the Course to College program receive supportive resources and materials through a Shared Resource Folder and technical assistance from Iowa College Aid to best use these resources. Resources for college applications include weekly collaboration calls with other schools, student survey data reports, “I Applied” stickers for students, and more.Back to top
What is FAFSA completion for Iowa’s high schools?
Targeted data allows schools to identify seniors who have not completed or filed a FAFSA and offer follow-up assistance. Iowa College Aid provides student-specific data through partnerships with the U.S. Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Education, Area Education Agencies, and high schools.
Why is completing the FAFSA important?
The importance of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is seen in the strong correlation between FAFSA completion and college enrollment as well as in its necessity for students to receive financial aid. For many students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, completing a FAFSA is a critical step in making the possibility of college a reality.
A National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) survey provides evidence that FAFSA and postsecondary enrollment are connected. Notably, students from the lowest socioeconomic quintile who completed a FAFSA were 127 percent more likely to be enrolled in the fall following high school graduation than their counterparts without a FAFSA completion.
Whether students plan to attend college, join the military, or start employment after high school they, should consider completing a FAFSA in order to be knowledgeable of the amount of aid they are eligible to receive if they choose to pursue higher education at any point in time after graduation.
FAFSA Completion Information
- Iowa's FAFSA Completion Rates
- FAFSA Filing Over Time
- Historical High School FAFSA Rates
- National FAFSA Completion Rates
How does Course to College support financing college?
Filing a FAFSA is only one step in process of financing a college education. FAFSA verification melt, understanding financial aid offers, and deciding which financial aid options to use are all part of the process too. Schools participating in the Course to College program receive supportive resources and materials through a Shared Resource Folder and technical assistance from Iowa College Aid to best use these resources. Resources for FAFSA completion and financial aid include weekly student-specific FAFSA reports, financial aid offer toolkits, a FAFSA verification guide, and more.
How can I receive FAFSA completion data for my school/organization?
All public high schools in the state are able to receive student-specific FAFSA completion data through Iowa College Aid’s partnerships with the U.S. Department of Education, Iowa Department of Education, and the AEA PREP initiative. In order for public schools to receive this information, a designated contact, usually a school counselor, needs to complete an Authorization Form. Email Danielle Sampson with any questions or concerns regarding how to receive this information.
For other designated entities (TRIO Programs, non-public schools, etc.), program or agency directors must enter into a data sharing agreement with Iowa College Aid. These designated entities must select an employee to serve as their Data Custodian. The Data Custodian will be given access to the Iowa College Aid Processing System (ICAPS) to upload their students’ information and receive a report regarding FAFSA completion for those students.Back to top
What is a college decision?
School events and activities recognize high school seniors for their college decision and encourage the college aspirations of underclassmen. Activities and events are held on or around May 1 to coincide with the date most seniors must inform a college of their plans to enroll.
Why is celebrating a decision important?
Celebrating students’ postsecondary plans holds them accountable to their commitment, recognizes their hard work, provides them with a sense of pride for their accomplishments, and spreads enthusiasm across the community and school district for future students to begin preparing for their postsecondary plans.
How does Course to College support college decisions?
This is a very exciting time of the year for students, staff and families. Iowa College Aid participates in events and activities throughout the state, as available. Schools participating in the Course to College program receive supportive resources and materials through a Shared Resource Folder and technical assistance from Iowa College Aid for to best use these resources. Resources for decision celebrations include weekly collaboration calls with other schools, “I Decided” student signs, student survey data reports, event planning templates, and more.Back to top
What is “going to college” (summer melt prevention)?
Once students choose a college, they still need to take major steps during the summer between high school graduation and the start of college classes. Course to College programming fights “summer melt” by ensuring that students fulfill their requirements before their courses begin, setting them up for success on Day One.
Why is summer melt prevention important?
Every year, 10-40 percent of high school graduates in the U.S. who have completed steps like applying and being accepted to college, submitting a FAFSA or even sending a college deposit, fail to show up on campus in the fall. This phenomenon is called summer melt. Summer melt happens when prospective college students’ motivation to go to college “melts away” during the summer months after high school graduation.
How does Course to College support summer melt prevention?
“Go” aims to reduce the rate of summer melt by providing additional resources, support and guidance to prospective students between high school graduation and the first day of classes. High schools participating in the Course to College program receive supportive resources and materials through a Shared Resource Folder and technical assistance from Iowa College Aid for how to best use these. Resources for summer melt prevention include a Summer Transition Checklist, summer melt rate calculation, texting campaign content, social media campaign content, and more.Back to top