Page 71 - Volume 6 - Issue 1 - DBU Journal for K-12 Educational Leadership

Journal of K-12 Educational Research 69 A CASE STUDY OF A COLLEGE READINESS ELECTIVE IN A HIGH PERFORMING DISTRICT IN NORTH TEXAS Julie Leslie, EdD Journal of K-12 Educational Research 2022, VOL. 6, ISSUE 1 Introduction The college admissions process has become increasingly more complicated, more time-consuming, and more stressful in recent years. Preparing for college is a formidable undertaking that used to begin in ninth or 10th grade but is now beginning in middle school. Students who walk the college admissions gauntlet spend countless hours in advanced courses, preparing for standardized college admissions testing, writing essays, and exceling in extracurricular activities. Whereas in earlier decades students attended college closer to home, students now research and apply to universities all over the United States and even all over the world. However, all this work focuses on the college application process and students’ valiant efforts to be the strongest applicants possible. The students’ work is focused on getting into college and not on what they will do when they get there. The current case study was an examination of the perceptions of 21 college students and young adults who had participated in a north Texas school district’s Independent Study and Mentorship (ISM) Program when they were in high school. The ISM program includes a rigorous, weighted elective students can take for 1 or 2 years beginning their junior year in high school. The research participants of the current study represented seven ethnicities and attended five different high schools in the district. The research participants attended public and private universities in nine states, including Ivy and other highly selective institutions. Specifically, the researcher asked about the former ISM students’ perceptions on the impact, if any, the ISM program had on their college admissions process, their transition from high school to college, and their overall college readiness. Additionally, the current study also included a focus group of four ISM teachers to gain their perceptions about the impact of the ISM program on ISM students’ college admissions process and the students’ transition from high school to college. The researcher also asked the ISM teachers about their perceptions related to the small number of students who are admitted to the ISM program but who do not have a successful experience in the course. Overview of Literature David Conley, considered by many to be an expert on college readiness, writes in various books and scholarly articles that college readiness is comprised of two components. The first is a student’s level of academic preparation. A student is considered collegeready if he or she does not need to take remedial courses in college to succeed in college level courses (Conley, 2010). College-ready students have also developed critical academic behaviors, such as study skills, notetaking skills, time management, and the ability to work independently. They can also set goals, collaborate, and persevere (Conley et al., 2010). The second component is what Conley (2005b) refers to as college knowledge. This includes knowledge about the college admissions process, application timelines, how to complete financial aid paperwork, and where to