The following article was originally published by the Press Republican on June 2, 2021.
PLATTSBURGH — Several tri-county area schools are among the 20 who have been selected to participate in North Country Brilliant Pathways, a college readiness program valued at $1.5 million.
Plattsburgh High School, Northern Adirondack High School, Northeastern Clinton Central School, Brushton-Moira Central School, Crown Point Central School, Keene Central School and Tupper Lake Middle/High School were selected from 72 schools who applied for the program, according to a press release.
CFES (College for Every Student) Brilliant Pathways announced the program, which aims to put more rural students on a path to college, in April.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
According to the release, though rural students attend college at just slightly lower rates than their urban peers, retention rates are much lower.
The National Center of Educational Statistics says 29% of rural Americans age 18 to 24 are enrolled in colleges and universities, compared to 42 percent of all Americans in that age range.
And the pandemic has worsened the problem, the release said, as FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completions, a sign of the intent to go to college, have dropped 10 percent nationally and 15 percent in rural areas this year.
Additionally, research by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has shown two-thirds of all jobs and 80 percent of those with a median pay of $65,000 or more require postsecondary education.
“Too many rural young people lack the skills and education to take on today’s high-wage jobs, and they are being left out of the 21st-century economy as a result,” CFES Brilliant Pathways President/CEO Rick Dalton said in a statement.
“The goal of this program is to level the playing field for a large group of rural students and ultimately rural communities.”
Dalton said the schools chosen demonstrate a need for the program and a strong commitment to working with CFES to make it successful.
According to the release, North Country Brilliant Pathways will offer a variety of services to participating schools, including:
• A dedicated professional program director who will make in-person and virtual visits throughout the year and guide the development of college and career plans.
• Professional development and enrichment opportunities for educators, partners and families.
• A vast library of resources as well as partnerships and networking opportunities with 200 colleges/universities and 230 businesses and corporations.
• Opportunities for networking, collaboration and recognition, including becoming a nationally recognized School of Distinction.
• A partnership with an urban school to promote cultural exchange and connection.
Additionally, all participating students will complete 10-point college and career readiness plans annually.
Plattsburgh City School District Superintendent of Schools Jay Lebrun said PHS has been a participating member of CFES Brilliant Pathways since it operated as “College For Every Student.”
He said math teacher Sue LaPierre “has been central to our membership and programming, and has for years worked to bolster and support the efforts of our school counselors.”
“We are also pleased to have, on more than one occasion, been honored by this organization for our college readiness efforts,” Lebrun added.
The district hopes that the North Country Brilliant Pathways program will supplement these efforts with additional resources.
“As we understand the parameters, 50 CFES scholars will have access to this programming, and we will be able to broaden and expand our traditional college readiness offerings,” Lebrun continued.
“The program director(s) and our counseling staff will identify CFES scholar candidates, and they will surely target those students for whom these opportunities will build the confidence and knowledge necessary to better define their own post-secondary pathway.
“We’re grateful for our continued partnership with the CFES Brilliant Pathways organization, and we’re excited about expanding upon the strong college readiness program already in place at Plattsburgh High School.”
The program’s features represent strategies developed over CFES’ 30-year history, many of which are detailed in Dalton’s book, “Rural America’s Pathways to College and Career.”
Dalton added that North Country Brilliant Pathways will be expanded in the future, and said the organization hopes to find additional funding to work with other schools that applied.
“We also see the program as a national model that could be put in place in rural communities around the country.”
By: Cara Chapman