Traditionally, when universities want to gain more access to prospective students, they target teenagers who are planning their next steps in education. While this is definitely an important moment in young people’s lives, in most cases it is too late to influence their decisions. At this point, their minds are already made up one way or the other.
A 2016 study showed that children who know they want to receive higher education by the age of 10 are 2.6 times more likely to end up at a good university. This is why universities look to affect children that are much younger.
In a way, this will be easier to achieve because primary school children are very receptive and interested in visitors, unlike those who are in their early teens. They are much more likely to ask and answer questions even if they get a bit fidgety.
If colleges and universities want to raise aspirations in children, they need to do it early because by the time they are in their final years of school they already have their minds made up about higher education.
The source of children’s doubts about attending universities is typically rooted very deep. Many children born in poor neighborhoods without access to high-performing schools can become discouraged about continuing their education. This is why it’s especially important to target those children early in order to make a real impact.
Besides school visits, universities should also help children understand what subjects are available and how they can connect with what they learn. Nowadays, many universities sponsor struggling schools. They could use these sponsorships as an excellent opportunity to establish a rapport with the children early on.
It is the responsibility of all universities to make sure that children are aware of the benefits and challenges of higher education at a young age. This way, they will feel empowered to make informed decisions about their academic careers.
- Prospective – likely to happen at a future date; possible; potential; probable
- Affect – influence; have an effect on
- Receptive – willing to consider or accept new suggestions and ideas; open-minded
- Fidgety – restless
- Aspiration – a hope or ambition of achieving something
- Impact – effect; influence; impression
- Struggling – experiencing difficulty, especially financial difficulty
Questions for Discussion
- How important do you think is it for people to attend university?
- What are some of the benefits and challenges of higher education?
- What impact does higher education have on a person’s life and happiness?
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