Students, Parents Alerted to Need for Smart Choices in High School
Over the next few weeks, eighth-grade students across Nebraska - and their parents - will receive letters alerting them to just how important the academic choices they make in high school are to their success in college and career.

Success in today’s society and economy depends on being able to think critically, solve math problems, operate computers, work in teams, understand political processes, appreciate other cultures, and be scientifically literate. These abilities are developed by taking rigorous courses in high school; failure to take such courses can result in years of struggle to make up lost ground.

Most good jobs today require a high-quality technical or college education, and most students and parents understand this. In a recent poll conducted by the Education Commission of the States, 91 percent of ninth-grade students said they plan to go to college. However, many graduate from high school unprepared for the rigors of college course work or find themselves not meeting college admission requirements.

Admission to the University of Nebraska, for example, requires four years of English, three years each of science and social studies, two years of foreign language, and three or four years of math. Students need similar courses to do well in a community college or to get a quality job in the workforce.

The high school years are also a time for making important plans. Students should attend local career days to learn about different professions. They also should attend college fairs, visit college campuses and talk with admissions staff members. Parents and students need to consider how to pay for college by finding out about scholarships, student aid, and programs offered by the military and other organizations. They should contact the Nebraska College Savings plan to determine the tax advantages it offers.

Information to help families get started on their plans is enclosed with our letter –and the materials are available in Spanish as well as English.

We have asked middle school and high school principals to distribute our letter and the accompanying materials. We thank them very much for their help in this annual effort and we encourage parents and students to ask their local principals and guidance counselors for help in getting additional information about college and careers.

L. Dennis Smith
President, University of Nebraska

Douglas D. Christensen
Nebraska Commissioner of Education
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