Post-Secondary Preparedness

Published by Ashley Shanab, Emma Fry, Maxwell Starr and Lewen Zhang


IntroductionArray of colored pencils

We have researched the different ways in which students are prepared for life after high school based on the type of school that they attended. Our topic has been split into two different types of Ohio schools: urban, low-socioeconomic schools and suburban, high-socioeconomic schools. We have further researched how these schools prepare students for the four post-graduate options: trade schools, workforce, college, and/or military. The way students are prepared for these options outside of high school is significant for teachers to realize so that teachers can have a greater impact and support the student-focused manner. It is also important for teachers to understand that students must have the same college preparedness, regardless of their socio-economic class, race, gender, and other factors. This topic has deep correlation with inclusion within school systems, working toward informing educators of the preparedness gap between students in an urban or suburban setting. Once educators start to see this specific gap, the actions of steps can be taken so that we can begin fixing this issue.

Related Legislation

“In order to improve college-readiness for urban, low-economic students, policymakers need to specify to school systems precisely which sets of knowledge and skills lead to heightened college access and success as well as how to measure these skills.”

Each Ohio school district is graded with a “report card rating.” The report card highlights the ability of the school in preparing students for the future, whatever that may look like for them. The elements measured through this report card include Career and Postsecondary Readiness (Honors Diploma, 12 pt Industry Credentials), Work-based and service-learning (Internships, Apprenticeships, service-learning), and Career-tech and advanced coursework (Advanced Placement, College Credit Plus) (Lee, Daniels, et al, 2008). 

gavel legislation lawThe U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics explains the gap between low and high socioeconomic status students. Those with low socioeconomic status with bachelor degrees after 8 years is a much lower percentage (6.9%) than those of high socioeconomic students (51%). The United States government has acknowledged this statistic and realized that there is a need to nationally raise the rate of enrollment, retention, and attainment of low socioeconomic students into postsecondary education. This helps us to show that there is a huge discrepancy in how socioeconomic status ties into the choices of the student on what to pursue in their life for after high school (Lee, Daniels, et al. 2008). 

In order to improve college-readiness for urban, low-economic students, policymakers need to specify to school systems precisely which sets of knowledge and skills lead to heightened college access and success as well as how to measure these skills. Furthermore, colleges should recognize these skills to determine postsecondary access to lesser-privileged student prospects: “content knowledge and basic skills; core academic skills; non-cognitive, or behavioral, skills; and “college knowledge,” the ability to effectively search for and apply to college”. (Roderick, M., Nagaoka, J., & Coca, V., 2019)

Literature Review

The three indicators most highly considered by college admissions are:

  • Coursework required for college admission
  • Achievement test scores
  • Grade point averages

Student performance differs in these categories greatly when categorized by race and ethnicity. (Roderick, M., Nagaoka, J., & Coca, V., 2019)

High schools emphasizing guidance and support in the following areas can lead to decreasing the gap with more low-income students entering and succeeding in college: (“Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students,” 2014)teacher leading classroom

  • College preparation
  • College application
  • Financial aid application
  • Persisting in current studies
  • Focusing on graduation

Student counselors play a very large role in whether students in a school will apply for postsecondary education/workforce or not. (Savitz‐Romer, M.)



Questions and Methods 

  • How do familiar low-socioeconomic areas compare to high-socioeconomic areas in preparing students for post secondary life?
  • How can we even the preparedness for life after high school between low-socioeconomic and high-socioeconomic high schools?
  • We researched two familiar Northeast Ohio High Schools, one in a low-socioeconomic area and the other in a high-socioeconomic area, and we compared their report card ratings.


  • Through our research, we give examples of this imbalance between socioeconomic status and school’s preparation of students through Firestone High School (an Akron City low socioeconomic school) and Highland High School (a smaller suburban high socioeconomic school).
  • Through the Report card system briefly mentioned earlier, Firestone High School earns individually a C, but Akron City schools’ overall earn a D (Pignolet, 2019). This grade at a high school level indicates the graduation rates and whether or not the school is preparing students for life after graduation. In discussion and reflection of this grade, board members acknowledged that there is quite a large area for growth in the school district. They even indicated that after looking at these results, they are looking into launching some College and Career Academies in the fall. These academies will help students to prepare for whatever they choose to pursue after graduation, but keeping graduation as their main goal. While the under preparation for students post-high-school may be a reality, administrators and teachers can take steps toward trying to provide resources for these students to receive the preparation that they need in order to be successful (Pignolet, 2019).

pie chart of students who plan to attend post-secondary education

  • Our high socio-economic area school example, Highland High School claims that 80% of its students plan on pursuing post-secondary education options. Along with this, students are also given the opportunity to enroll in Vocational/career training programs through a strong partnership with the Medina County Career Center (SchoolPointe Inc, 2019). Highland High School also received a report card grade overall of “A,” but received a “B” in the “Prepared for Success” component grade. The Prepared for Success rating looks at how well prepared students are for future opportunities whether that be for training in a technical field or preparing for the workforce or college. On the opposite end, our low-socioeconomic school Firestone High School (Akron City Schools) received an F rating in the Prepared for Success Rating (“Ohio School Report Cards”, 2019). 
  • This rating system allowed us to see a large difference in preparedness ratings amongst our low-socioeconomic area school and our socioeconomic area school. There is room for improvement in both systems, but there is a noticeable inequality between them as well.


  • One major way in which Ohio High Schools are stepping forward to help high school students prepare for life after high school, specifically college, is throCCP college credit plus logough the new College Credit Plus Program (CCP). The college credit plus program is an opportunity for high school students to start earning college credit while the state of Ohio is picking up the bill for them. Students can go to a college campus, but typically either a college instructor goes to the high school or a high school teacher has been certified to teach college-level material. (Gilchrist, 2016). CCP gives students a preview into what to expect when taking college classes. This program also gives students college credit to give them an early start in their college career, making it seem more manageable. 
  • More suggestions based on our findings are included in the classroom resources below.


Classroom Implications

From what we’ve found, schools tend to vary quite largely in the way that students are prepared for life after high school. There has been a noticeable lack of effective implementation of promising approaches to preparing students for life after high school.  

Students working at a desk

Casual learning environment

Informing students of the importance of postsecondary education and the achievable difficulties that must be accomplished in order to get into university has been found to decrease the gap in college admissions of urban and suburban school districts. Another method that was found to be very successful in further decreasing this gap is when teachers in urban schools focused on building relationships founded on trust and respect with their students. (Roderick, M., Coca, V., & Nagaoka, J., 2011)

Teaching students how to apply for different forms of financial aid has shown to help raise rates of urban student admissions into postsecondary education. (Rosa, D. L., Luna, Tierney, M., & G., W.) Therefore, teachers should incorporate this aspect of college preparation and readiness into their curriculum.

Teachers who go above and beyond simply believe their students can get into postsecondary education and believe their students can be accepted by difficult-to-get-into universities have seen higher college success in their students due to the effects of higher perceived ability from both the teacher and the students. (Roderick, et al., 2011)

Recommend Resources

One of the main suggestions for our topic is that socioeconomic status is only the broad reasoning for low preparedness in these urban low-socioeconomic schools. It is suggested that what lies deeper below is that students with lower socioeconomic status also tend to struggle with things such as locus of control and academic expectation, as well as race and gender tend to affect behavior, test scores and overall how prepared students feel for life post-high-school graduation. It is suggested that investigating these sources of variation can put counselors in a better place to properly prepare students of low socioeconomic status and better provide interventions for them and modifying guidance service delivery models. This can help to escalate the learning and development of low-socioeconomic schools and students such as those in Firestone High School (Lee, Daniels, et al, 2008). School Counselors and teachers should try to identify the diversity and these different factors in their classrooms and use these to try to leverage their students’ preparedness for life after high school.

Classroom Resources


This source is something that a teacher can share with students when they are preparing for their post secondary life. Giving students the opportunity to research and gain information about the many college options open to them throughout the United States. As well as giving students an insight on college, this fair also includes trade schools that students can explore as another post secondary option. 

This link can lead students to an event calendar showing many different career fairs. By providing this link the options are open of whether a career or college is the next step a student wants to take. These fairs show many opportunities with different careers keeping a high school students options open to many different career paths. Teachers can use this resource to show students that post-secondary life is important, whether that means going into the workforce or pursuing further education. 

Glossary and Key Terms

Suburban: Merriam-Webster dictionary describes the suburbs as an outlying part of a city or town normally within commuting distance (Dictionary by Merriam-Webster, 2019).

Urban: Merriam-Webster dictionary describes urban as of or relating to a city environment (Dictionary by Merriam-Webster, 2019). 

Socio-economic status: The APA describes socioeconomic status as the class of an individual or group, social standing, or class of individual/group measured through education, income, and occupation. This not only covers income but also attainment of education and finances. This status can also encompass quality of life as well as privileges awarded to people within society. The APA claims socioeconomic status to be a reliable predictor of outcomes of lifespan and health.  (Socioeconomic Status, 2019)

College Preparedness: refers to the set of skills, knowledge, and behaviors a high school student should have before graduation and attending college (Seils, R., Tafel, J., & Van Meter, D., 2015). 

College Credit Plus Program (CCP): this is a program that allows eligible students to take college courses to earn high school and college credit that appears on both transcripts (Gilchrist, 2016). 

Post-Secondary Education: According to the Oxford English Dictionary post-secondary refers to post-secondary as “education of or relating to a stage of education coming after secondary education; tertiary” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2006).


Columbus Career Fairs. (2018, December 6). Retrieved from 

Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America’s most-trusted online dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2019, from

Gilchrist, S. (2016, April 28). More Ohio high-schoolers getting a head start on college. The Columbus Dispatch [Columbus]. Retrieved from 

Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students. (2014, January). Retrieved October 16, 2019, from 

Lee, S. M., Daniels, M. H., Newgent, R. A., & Nam, S. K. (2008). Career and Postsecondary Readiness. Retrieved from  

Lee, S. M., Daniels, M. H., Puig, A., Newgent, R. A., & Nam, S. K. (2008). A Data-Based Model to Predict Postsecondary Educational Attainment of Low-Socioeconomic-Status Students. Professional School Counseling. 

NACAC National College Fairs- Columbus National College Fair. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

Ohio School Report Cards. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2019, from

Oxford english dictionary. (2006, December). Retrieved from 

Roderick, M., Coca, V., & Nagaoka, J. (2011, June 23). Potholes on the Road to College: High School Effects in Shaping Urban Students’ Participation in College Application, Four-year College Enrollment, and College Match. Retrieved from

Roderick, M., Nagaoka, J., & Coca, V. (2019, April). College Readiness for All: The Challenge for Urban High Schools. Retrieved October 16, 2019, from of Children.pdf.   

Rosa, D. L., Luna, Tierney, M., & G., W. (2005, November 30). Breaking through the Barriers to College: Empowering Low-Income Communities, Schools, and Families for College Opportunity and Student Financial Aid. Retrieved from

Savitz‐Romer, M. (2012, June 8). The Gap Between Influence and Efficacy: College Readiness Training, Urban School Counselors, and the Promotion of Equity. Retrieved from

SchoolPointe, Inc. (n.d.). General School Information . Retrieved November 3, 2019, from

Seils, R., Tafel, J., & Van Meter, D. (2015). Navigating central ohio’s college & career readiness system. Retrieved from 

Socioeconomic Status. (2019). Retrieved November 3, 2019, from

Pignolet, J. (2019, September 17). State report cards: See how your Akron school performed. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from