At EDWorks Early College High Schools, we help first-generation college goers have the power to change the trajectory of their lives.

Amanda Miller from College Advising Corps was working with a group of students and conducting an exercise to determine if they were going to college, and if they were not, why? The responses ranged from “my grades aren’t good enough,” “it’s too expensive,” “why should I spend time going to college when I could be working,” and “my parents didn’t go and they are doing fine.” One by one she offered compelling counterpoints to her students’ objections with real-examples from experiences with other students.

Miller discussed her experience in Overcoming Students’ Perceived Barriers to College.

The day before I read this blog, my colleagues from EDWorks, KnowledgeWorks and I were in a strategic planning meeting where we were asked, as an ice-breaker, to share one experience that either motivated us to go to college or to persist in college. One by one we offered 13 different reasons we attended and/or persisted through to graduation.

A number of us were first-generation college goers, low-income, moderate income, average or above-average students who didn’t necessarily know how to navigate the college process. Fortunately, our parents, grandparents, other extended family and friends helped us to quell the voices in our heads that were giving some of us the same objections the writer encountered with her students.

In Early College High Schools, we help students who are experiencing many of the same challenges experienced by the first-generation college-goers sitting around that boardroom table. At Early Colleges, we help students set goals, meet high expectations and understand they have the power to change the trajectory of their lives by just deciding to embrace the early college opportunity. Early College High School students can persist and thrive from intrinsic motivation or, more often than not, with the help of caring adults who expect success.

Think back about your own experience. Did you face any barriers in your education? How did you overcome them? Tweet me @AMulkeyEDW to share them.


Creating success is not done in isolation.

Collaboration, networking and leveraging existing relationships are necessary aspects to create the partnerships that lead to success.

At a recent EDWorks conference focusing on Early College, Cynthia Kushner, the Director of Marketing & Outreach Initiatives at Lorain County Community College, talked about the partnerships that have made the relationship between the Community College and Lorain County Early College High School a success.

She had three pieces of advice for forming successful partnership relationships for an Early College High School:

  • Identify community influences
  • Secure an advocate for the work
  • Utilize all your available resources to create an Early College program in your community

These are almost the same statements I used to encourage Early College students when I was the principal at Lorain County Early College High School:

  • Work in a peer group
  • Find someone who believes in you
  • Take advantage of all opportunities

These simply truisms, or skill sets, are the foundations used to both support the dreams of our students and to transition those students to successful careers, but also to create successful partnerships in the formation of an Early College High School.


It’s All About the Mindset

April 14, 2015
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In a fixed mindset, a student believes their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. Looking around schools today, fixed mindsets are all too common. How many poor grades does it take for a student to earn before he or she has fixed mindset? How many classrooms are there where the student came […]

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Shifting Our Mindsets: Inquiry-Based Learning

April 7, 2015
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How do we prepare students for a future we can neither describe nor predict? As educators, we are challenged with developing new ways to get students to see the connections amongst different subjects. One way to address this challenge is by creating an environment and culture where students are curious and maintain a passion to […]

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A Small-Group Discussion Among District Leaders

April 2, 2015

What “systems/procedures” must district leaders put in place for early college work to flourish? And what resources—time, people, space, money and information—must be in place? At our recent EDWorks Experience Conference, eighteen district-leaders engaged in a lively discussion about an array of “systems” that need to be taken into account for early college work to […]

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Partnership is Relationship

March 31, 2015
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Deep, rich partnerships are an essential component of EDWorks schools. Close collaboration among the school and its partners ramps up the rigor of learning experiences and, through implementation, naturally answers student questions like, “Why do I have to learn this?” or “When will I use this in real life, anyway?” Over the years, several themes […]

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