Since 2008, Career & College Clubs has empowered more than 50,000 middle school students throughout the country, including 91% of participants from racial/ethnic minorities, 71% Hispanic, and more than 60% of their parents having no postsecondary education.
While there are many college and career readiness programs for high school students, there are very few of these programs for the middle school years, a pivotal time in the development of student behaviors, attitudes, and work habits; and there are even fewer programs that address the total child as does Career & College Clubs – providing the content, resources, and support system needed for the development of both academic and social-emotional skills (including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative innovation), so students at an earlier age have the knowledge, tools, motivation, aspiration, confidence, and drive to stay engaged in the learning process, enthusiastically plan for their future, and promote a college-going culture among peers schoolwide.
Career & College Clubs was created in response to the significant dropout rate among students entering high school, and supported by research confirming that waiting until junior or senior year of high school for students to start planning for college is just too late. Career & College Clubs provides students with the knowledge, tools, support, and confidence they need to plan for and assume responsibility for their future.
Moreover, Career & College Clubs accomplishes these goals by employing a vastly under-utilized resource: students. The students themselves run their club, guide each other through the curriculum, and lead activities that promote a postsecondary success culture at their school.
The program focuses on peer-to-peer learning for two reasons. One, it requires fewer dollars and staff hours to implement. More importantly, it is an effective practice. Research indicates that students with a peer support system—an accountability group to help them stay focused, discuss goals, build confidence, help with decision making—they are more likely to exhibit positive behaviors and pursue rewarding postsecondary opportunities.
An external review by ACT, Inc. found that Career & College Clubs increases the likelihood that at-risk students will make specific plans to succeed in high school and postsecondary education, including higher aspirations for careers in science and technology.
ACT, Inc. has also followed Career & College Clubs students to learn if, in fact, they do enroll in postsecondary education after high school. Their preliminary findings reveal that 62% of Career & College Clubs students enroll in postsecondary education, compared to 46% of students in a comparison group.