We Are Ready
In response to America’s high school drop-out crisis, ASAS launched its We Are Ready (W.A.R.) initiative to better prepare our middle school students for success in high school and beyond. Our curriculum targets middle schoolers who exhibit signs that they are at risk of dropping-out and helps them answer the questions:
- Why does graduating from high school matter?
- What schools and programs are available as high school options?
- How do I find one that matches my long term goals?
We Are Ready gives students concrete strategies for success in high school and beyond. Through career and college exposure, high school selection & application support, study skill building, counseling and mentoring, We Are Ready provides middle school students with the skills, information, and confidence they need to successfully navigate their transition into high school so they are better prepared to graduate.
This year’s participants shared the knowledge they gained from participating in the class, finishing the sentence: “To prepare for high school, college, and career, I will…”
Some of our student responses included:
- study more
- take SAT prep classes
- find afterschool clubs that will help with my major and finding a job
- get good grades
- obtain a good mentor
Passport to Success
Passport to Success is an annual event that is a component of the We Are Ready initiative. Passport to Success is a day-long high school exploration event offered to hundreds of ASAS 6th and 7th graders and their families. Families spend the day learning about their high school options, and set goals for the search and application process.
99% of participants in 2015 felt more prepared to start their high school search as a result of participating in the event.
98% of parents attending in 2015 said they will use information from the event to start a conversation with their child about high school.
Middle school students (and their parents) are overwhelmed with high school options, not to mention navigating the application process and eligibility requirements for each of them. Passport to Success allows both students and their parents to explore high school options in the hopes of being more informed when they go to make their selection in 8th grade. Passport to Success has breakout sessions for students, each session focusing on a specific high school program:
- Selective Enrollment High Schools
- International Baccalaureate programs
- Career & Technical Education programs
- Charter Schools
- STEM High Schools
- Military Academies
Parents are able to attend the different breakout sessions with their students, or on their own. Parents also have the opportunity to attend their own breakout session where Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Access and Enrollment walk them through the different online resources parents can use for the high school application process.
The day wraps up with a Town Hall-style Q&A where panelists consisted of staff and students from the various high school programs. Questions are submitted ahead of time and participants have the opportunity to ask questions on the fly.
“I learned that it’s better to start planning your future now than waiting until your 8th grade.”- Student Participant, 2014
“I can’t express just how excellent and useful your event was for me as a parent and for my daughter” – Parent Participant, 2014
CampUS is another component of the We Are Ready initiative.
ASAS provides students with in-depth, week-long, immersion experiences through “CampUs.” Students live in the dorms, take classes in lecture halls and eat in college cafeterias. This introduction to college life motivates students to reach their academic and professional goals. The programs have been nothing short of life changing.
Isayas, a Chicago CampUs participant, summed it up best, saying: “After this experience, I know it’s going to be impossible NOT to go to college.”
100% of CampUs 2015 participants agreed that CampUs helped them understand:
- What to expect in High School
- How to calculate a GPA
- How to be a leader
- The importance of finding a mentor or role model
- The college application process
- The importance of letters of recommendation
Additionally, 100% of 2015 participants would recommend CampUs to their friends!
“CampUs really teaches you how to get ready for high school & college and that it helps you by answering questions you want answered.” Sucarla, CampUs 2015.
Spotlight: University of Chicago
In 2015, ASAS Chicago hosted CampUs at the University of Chicago, engaging 30 rising 8th and 9th graders from six of our Partner Schools. Students were paired with high school and college mentors throughout the week. Students participated in Battle of the Apps, ASAS-Chicago’s business plan challenge where campers design the next hot digital app and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. The last night of CampUS, students get to celebrate their hard work and learning by having a night out on the town. Last year, students watched the Navy Pier fireworks while relaxing on a Wendella Boats’ signature boat tour in Lake Michigan.