Letter: 21st Century Scholar requirements are on target

To the editor:

An editorial (“Scholars program requires overhaul,” Sept. 15, Page A6) highlights the ticking clock for Class of 2017 21st Century Scholars to meet new requirements designed to better prepare them for college success.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education shares a great sense of urgency for these students; however, we also stand firmly in support of these requirements as the best and most important steps to ensure more students are prepared to complete college.

The activities outlined in the Scholar Success Program were created in 2012 in response to legislation created with bipartisan support by the Indiana General Assembly to improve the number of 21st Century Scholars who complete a postsecondary credential.

A diverse group of educators, community partners and business stakeholders worked to identify these 12 activities as the most important steps college-bound students should take in high school. The commission has been sharing information about the Scholar Success Program with educators, guidance counselors and communities since 2012.

The commission is working with partners across Indiana to make sure Scholars have the guidance and support needed to meet these new requirements. With direct mail, email and phone calls, as well as community and media outreach, we are making sure all graduating seniors have every opportunity to complete the requirements by June 30, 2017.

It’s important to remember that nearly all of these activities can be completed independently by students, and there is ample flexibility in how these requirements can be met. For example, campus tours can be completed on site or virtually, and a career experience can be an internship or a phone interview with someone who works in an area of interest.

Some of the requirements — such as applying for college, taking the SAT or ACT, and completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — are activities all students must complete to go to college.

Across the board, we are hearing from educators and school officials that these are the right activities for high school students. In fact, they are using it as an opportunity to place a stronger focus on college and career preparation. To better support Indiana high schools, we are offering Scholar Success Grants for schools and community organizations to help Scholars complete the program.

Getting 21st Century Scholars to and through college is the goal. To prepare them for the rigors of college, the Scholar Success Program is giving them the experiences and information they need to succeed.

Now is not the time to change course. Now is the time to double-down and take an all-hands-on-deck approach to making sure students are prepared for college.

Kaylee Showers

Communications Project Manager

Indiana Commission for Higher Education