National College Access Network

College Access and Success Strategies That Promote Early Awareness in Middle-Level Grades

Posted on July 31, 2017

Ideas for Effective, Equitable Early Awareness Strategies
By Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy

When nine founding organizations joined together to form NCAN more than 20 years ago, most college access services were targeted at high school juniors and seniors. Over the next two decades, those services have expanded dramatically up and down the educational pipeline to include success programs for college students and early awareness programs for middle grade students. Over this time, states and cities also looked to target low-income students. They used four primary interventions: children’s savings accounts, place-based promise programs, early commitment scholarships, and informational campaigns. In a new brief, College Access and Success Strategies That Promote Early Awareness in Middle-Level Grades, NCAN explores the most effective way to structure these policies so that they equitably serve low-income students.

After conducting a literature review and exploring examples of these policy options, NCAN concluded that there is not enough evidence to recommend one strategy over the other, but that there is evidence that each one is a promising practice to increase college access for low-income students. Similar to many other practices targeting our students, it is likely a combination of strategies is most effective.

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