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College is for everyone!

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Now that I have your attention, let me provide an explanation for this belief statement.

Pequot Lakes High School has been selected to participate in the Ramp-Up to Readiness program sponsored by the University of Minnesota. Pequot Lakes was one of 70 schools across Minnesota that applied to participate in this program, beginning in the fall of 2013.

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The program helps students reach five readiness goals: academic, admissions, career, financial and personal-social.

• Academic Readiness: The ability to succeed in first-year, credit-bearing courses at a technical college, a community college or a four-year college or university.

• Admissions Readiness: The ability to meet admissions requirements at a range of postsecondary institutions.

• Career Readiness: The ability to identify careers that match personal, financial and other goals and an understanding of the skills, credentials and experiences required to succeed in those careers.

• Financial Readiness: The ability to cover the cost of the first term of study at a postsecondary institution through savings, loans and financial aid.

• Personal and Social Readiness: The ability to set educational goals, make and monitor progress toward them, and create relationships with peers and adults that support academic success

The foundation of Ramp-Up is that readiness for postsecondary education must be the main mission of high schools, and although every student may not need or choose to attend college, every student should be ready to realistically consider that option at the end of his/her high school career.

It is critical to note that “college” denotes any one-, two- or four-year post-secondary program, all of which are becoming increasingly essential for job acquisition and career success.

A growing body of research indicates that by 2018, more than 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require some form of education past high school. Further, research tells us that the same skills that are needed to be successful in college are needed to be successful in the workplace for students who choose not to attend college.

The key component of Ramp-Up to Readiness is a grade-based curriculum consisting of weekly lessons and activities that will be led by PLHS staff with small groups of students each Wednesday. The program allows kids to change their plan and look at goals realistically. It offers tangible information for them to make good decisions.

The curriculum is tailored to the needs of the students at each grade level. It covers everything from planning and budgeting for education to how to fill out applications, write a resume and apply for financial aid.

There is no cost to the school for being part of this program. The data received from the program at Pequot Lakes High School will be part of a study funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences as part of work by the Midwest Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest). The study aims to better understand the processes and interventions that enhance college-going, college completion and work force success.

We are excited to extend this opportunity to all students in grades 9-12. Pequot Lakes High School is proud to be part of a unified effort and help Minnesota enter a new era – one in which all of our students are expected and supported to go beyond a high school diploma.

I hope now you will understand why I firmly stand behind my statement that every PLHS graduate is going to be prepared for college!

For more information on the University of Minnesota’s Ramp-Up to Readiness program, go to rampuptoreadiness.org.

(Chip Rankin is Pequot Lakes High School principal.)

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