by William Jackson, M.Ed.
Educator and Blogger
My Quest To Teach
High school students and their parents experience high stress and anxiety the closer a students’ senior year comes. Senior years are a time for celebrations, high expectations, looking towards future careers and entering into higher education. College and university entrance opens doors to brighter futures for youth especially Black youth seeking to better their lives.
A young person with a college degree will make a million dollars more than a young person with just a high school diploma. Even McDonalds, Burger King and other establishments will or are requiring their
management people to have a minimum of two years college education.
New standards would dim many students Bright Future opportunities as the Bright Future Scholarships
goes under many changes and modifications. Florida is known for its educational reform, but many parents wonder if these reforms are designed to keep minority students and students of color from obtaining a college education. More students of color are attending some type of higher educational institution and entering in careers that they normally don’t show an interest. Even in STEAM – Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics there is a growing minority presence because technology allows Black students better opportunities for exposure and employment. Are minorities being systematically being closed out of earning a college degree to keep them from growing?
The Bright Futures program was designed to reward high-achieving high school students with the cost
of college. Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Travis and Denise-Marie Ordway have written that new state
rules may slash the number of Florida students eligible for the state’s most popular type of Bright
Futures scholarship. One of the requirements students will have to score higher on tests to be eligible for the scholarship rewards. This will drastically impact students and hurt many students particularly minority first generation college students. The opportunities for a quality college education are slowly diminishing for youth and parents need to be prepared to provide more financial support and look for alternative financial resources. The state of Florida has four Bright Futures scholarships the most popular is the Florida Medallion scholarship. The Legislature in 2011 toughened criteria so that students entering college in the fall of 2014 will need higher ACT and SAT scores than in the past to be eligible to qualify.
Students will have to score at least an 1170 on the SAT in 2014, up from 980 in 2012.
The best possible SAT score, when math and critical-reading sections are combined, is a 1600. The minimum required ACT score rises to 26. The cutoff score last fall was 21, the highest possible composite ACT score of 36. That means students will really need to focus on academics skill sets when taking these assessments. As a parent I had my children take both the SAT and ACT twice to obtain as high a score as possible. I encouraged them when they entered into high school to be a part of academic clubs and organizations to build on their academic abilities early, looking towards the future. Sports was secondary academics was primary, but the involvement in extra-curricular activities was important to because of the exposure to new ideas, critical thinking skills and higher order learning. During the summers we attended events at the libraries, museums, etc. to continue to build on knowledge.
Parents need to understand that even in high school they need to stay in contact with their children’s
teachers, administrators and even guidance counselors. On several occasions I had to meet with guidance
counselors because I felt that I was not taken seriously and provided with enough and the proper information to make good decisions about my children and their college entrance.
That is the responsibility of a parent to stay engaged and ask questions. There are no stupid questions when the needs of your child are the priority. Don’t rely totally on your child and expect them to know everything, they are still children and concerned with academics, assessments and other stresses. Parents should talk to their children regularly.
A disservice is being done to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The changes will affect the
tuitions at these schools and the desire of students, not just Blacks, but other races from attending. The fear is that many freshmen entering HBCU’s would not qualify for Bright Futures in 2014. My son attends #FAMU, his major is Microbiology and he is an honors student. These changes may not affect him, his sister will be affected, she is a junior in high school and will graduate in 2014, so it is vital for her to continue to be academically successful and a strong test taker even if it means tutoring. Black
parents need to realize if their children are struggling there is no shame to ask for a tutor. Malcolm X
made the statement: “By any means necessary” this can be used in education also, use all means to
make sure your child is successful tutors, visits to libraries and museums, academic programs, etc.
Major universities will see the affects in their Freshmen classes, many freshmen at the Universities of Central Florida, Florida and Florida State University received scholarships last school year. Their numbers may drop when the new requirements are imposed. The opinions from school administrators
and parents is rising, Michele Erickson, Principal at Orlando’s Edgewater High
School, “I’m definitely concerned that not as many students will have the benefit of such a great opportunity.” Conner Gilbert, Assistant Principal at Harmony High School in Harmony, “such a jump makes the Florida Medallion almost untouchable for the vast majority of our students.”
Parents talk to guidance counselors about scholarships, grants, Internships and other financial options. Don’t wait until too late as deadlines get closer. The competition will be fierce for what
little monies are available, research scholarships where ever possible.