The Wonder Years: How the College Pipeline Starts in Middle School 

Over the past two years at Higher Achievement, we’ve been seriously considering how to support our scholars not only as they enter and graduate high school – but also as they navigate post-secondary education/training and pursue careers. In true Higher Achievement fashion, this has involved a LOT of research and many discussions leading to our new strategic plan to serve our scholars in a more forward-thinking way. 


On September 26, we shared more information about how we plan to build this pipeline from middle school to college at the NCAN Conference in Pittsburgh.  We were joined by our long-time supporter the New York Life Foundation to highlight the importance of middle school investment and share key strategies to promote postsecondary readiness. 


During the interactive session, The Wonder Years: How the College Pipeline Starts in Middle School, participants learned effective elements of mentoring programs and intentional college/career partnerships, while receiving literature on the research basis for middle school interventions, including Higher Achievement’s own random-control trial study – to inform their program design, district strategy, or fundraising case. Attendees also reflected on their own strategies to support students at this age, and gained insight on new approaches and underlying research to ensure more students stay on track for college. 


Chioma Aneke, a college graduate alumna of Higher Achievement, also shared her personal journey with attendees, describing how the support she received during middle school had a profound impact on future college and career success.  


The Dialogue Continues  


In October, Higher Achievement’s Board of Directors will host an evening of rich, yet intimate conversation that focuses intentionally on the link between academics, mentoring, and social and emotional learning (SEL) during the middle school years to boost college success and persistence.  Featured expert panelists include: Nicole O. Beechum – The University of Chicago, Jennifer Brown Lerner – The Aspen Institute, Shane Mulhern – Monument Academy Public Charter School, Jessica Newman – American Institutes for Research, and Briana Wallington – Prince George’s County Public Schools.