Overview of Chapters

Chapter 1 outlines why rural America's schools and communities are falling behind their urban and suburban counterparts. The chapter also tells the story of CFES Brilliant Pathways' evolution since its founding in 1991 and how college and career readiness strategies can help turn around rural communities and their economies.

Chapter 2 tells the story of a K-12 rural school that resurrected itself from the ashes to become a model that, because of its success, is being analyzed by researchers from institutions such as the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University at Albany. The chapter provides steps that were integral in the school's transformation.

Chapter 3 provides an overview of the Essential Skills™ that were identified by CFES (College for Every Student) in their most successful scholars— those who graduate from college on time and attain well-paying jobs that move them and their families out of poverty. The six Essential Skills—goal setting, teamwork, leadership, networking, perseverance, and agility— helped the students succeed in college and beyond. This chapter defines each skill and provides activities that can be used to help students develop these skills.

Chapter 4 discusses how college- and career-readiness counselors can provide needed support to rural students. Young people, especially those who are unfamiliar with higher education, need advice and support as they move toward college and career readiness. All students need advisors who are able and available to help them meet admission and financial aid deadlines, understand how to pay for college, complete applications, find internships and job-shadowing opportunities, and navigate the realm of college- and career-readiness challenges. This chapter outlines the importance of training college, community, and business personnel, as well as educators and staff in schools and provides information on how to train these individuals.

Chapter 5 highlights the important role community partners can play in helping students understand the workforce pathway. Since there are generally so few businesses located in rural communities, it can be difficult to identify prospective local partners, especially in industry sectors that are positioned to flourish in the next decades. Despite these obstacles, CFES has developed hundreds of highly successful business partnerships for its rural schools that accelerate college and career readiness. This chapter looks at how these partnerships provide mentors, internships, speakers for college- and career-readiness events, apprenticeships, and jobshadowing opportunities. Corporations including Ernst & Young, MetLife, and Southwest Airlines have partnered with rural schools across the United States through CFES.

Chapter 6 looks at what it means to be college ready and provides strategies to help rural students prepare for college life. CFES has set up more than 500 school-college partnerships in its history, and the most successful schools have been found to have robust higher education partnerships, whether with four-year universities or community colleges. Schools and colleges need help launching and maintaining these partnerships. Chapter 6 highlights successful partnerships between colleges and rural schools, and defines college readiness and shares special strategies to help rural students attain college readiness.

Chapter 7 discusses the importance of technology in leveraging opportunities and providing access to information in rural communities. The

COVID-19 pandemic exposed our country's digital divide. A lack of high-speed internet and other attendant technologies greatly affects rural economies. Despite this challenge, some rural schools are finding ways to leverage technology to overcome cost, distance, and other obstacles. Technology has the potential to shorten the distance between communities and colleges, which will greatly benefit rural students. This chapter shares ways to leverage technology to ameliorate this situation and ultimately enhance college and career readiness.

Chapter 8 examines what keeps rural students from graduating college.

Each year more than 500,000 rural students drop out of college. Graduation rates are lower for rural kids than for their urban and suburban peers because rural students have less exposure to diversity and less support from their home communities, where there are likely to be far fewer people with college degrees. This chapter shares strategies that colleges and college- and career-readiness advisors are implementing to ensure that rural students graduate, as well as what young people and their families can do to ensure greater likelihood of on-time degree attainment.

Chapter 9 examines the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and the challenges rural students face. In

the United States, low-income students are ten times less likely to attain a STEM degree than their high-income peers. Given that the majority of the new, high-paying jobs in our country will be in STEM, it's crucial that we fix this broken pipeline and include more low-income students, especially those from rural communities, who are woefully underrepresented in the STEM workplace. This is critical because STEM jobs are the future. This chapter looks at how CFES is addressing these issues by providing hands-on activities for rural students to build STEM awareness, interest, and readiness.

Chapter 10 provides helpful information for students on understanding

the cost of college and how to pay for it. The cost of college has increased significantly in the last decade. Not surprisingly, cost is now the greatest obstacle preventing young people from pursuing college. For students from rural America, cost is an even greater deterrent. Chapter 10 shares strategies for paying for college that will benefit students, their families, and their schools. While the most important strategy is to stay informed and meet deadlines, residents of rural communities across America are also creating their own innovative scholarship programs that are helping thousands of students attain college degrees and transform lives.

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