ASPIRE President Taria Pritchett Among 2009 Service Learning Scholars

My Call to Serve: Preparing Pre-college Students for Post Secondary Education

Taria ReadingTaria says that she always knew that should would go to college, and she trusted the guidance that she got from her mom, counselors, and teachers about how to prepare.   Many of her friends in middle and high school simply did not have a clue, and it troubled her that these capable young people would not prepare themselves for future opportunities.  First generation students are much less likely to make it to college than are students whose parents are college educated.  With 75% of emerging jobs requiring education beyond high school, at least 2 years of college, Taria knew that too many of her friends would begin their lives after high school with slim chances of achieving a career or well paying job

Taria’s response to this problem is to provide leadership for the development of a UD student-led college awareness program that targets support to students who face challenges in preparing for their futures.  With support from the ASPIRE director Melva Ware, Education Professor Shuaib Meacham, and the UD Office of Service Learning,  Taria assembled a team of student researchers to develop the curriculum for Operation College Awareness Reaching Everyone (CARE), which will launch in the fall 2009.

The curriculum is research-based and references recent studies on developing achievement-centered peer groups. Researchers Tierny and Venegas found that similar background students can develop social networks that support and enable a culture of success, as students become “like family” and share goals and aspirations.  See Fictive Kin and Social Capital: The Role of Peer Groups in Applying and Paying for College.  American Behavioral Scientist. Vol 49 No 12 1687-1702.

Taria and Middle School Students

The goal of Operation C.A.R.E. is to engage middle and high school students to help them to persist to high school graduation, enroll, and succeed in postsecondary education. During her presentation on her summer research project, Taria noted that it is also very important to listen to pre-college students in planning for the work ahead.

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