by Claire Miller
The College of Education and the Office of International Initiatives hosted a delegation of high school principals and counselors from Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) as part of Paving the Way to Postsecondary Education: Implementing College Readiness and Access Summer Institute, a week-long series of seminars and site visits aimed at finding better ways to prepare Ivoirian high school students for higher education.
"The purpose of this institute is to work with the delegation to develop and implement a program that will increase the academic capacity and college readiness skills of current high school students in Côte d'Ivoire," said Gwen Benson, COE associate dean for school, community and international partnerships.
The institute featured sessions on leadership, higher education in the nonprofit sector and international initiatives, all of which identified the roadblocks students face in attending post-secondary schools – funding, lack of information about college, academic shortfalls and home-life issues, among others – and the work that educational leaders in K-12 schools and universities can do to address these concerns.
William Teasley, director of the Higher Ground Education Initiative in Atlanta and one of the institute's guest speakers, suggested school leaders host more college fairs, hold test-prep and college application sessions for families, plan celebrations for students who are accepted into post-secondary schools and utilize social media and websites as hubs of information about attending college.
"Students need to see post-secondary education as an option," Teasley said. "In the U.S., we have to plan for college, and we want to be sure that both students and their families are involved in the process."
In addition to these sessions, the delegation visited Carver Early College High School, Booker T. Washington High School and Clark Atlanta University to speak with principals and administrators on how the Early College program operates and how it benefits students.
Initially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Early College is a partnership between Georgia State University's College of Education and Atlanta Public Schools that allows high school students at Carver and Washington to take college courses and earn up to 60 college credits before they graduate from high school. As a part of the program, students have the unique opportunity to earn college credits by participating in the annual summer study abroad course offered through the COE specifically for Early College students.
By the end of the week, the visitors from Côte d'Ivoire were able to brainstorm ideas for implementing similar college readiness programs and initiatives in their schools.
These programs would help students attend universities such as the International University of Grand Bassam (IUGB), one of Georgia State University's partner institutions in Africa. Students who attend IUGB can enroll in its 2+2 program, where they spend their first two years at IUGB and then complete their bachelor's degree at GSU.
Sonya Henry, Georgia State's interim IUGB project coordinator, said GSU is in the process of renewing a three-year contract with IUGB that will focus more closely on faculty and staff development and building IUGB as a four-year, degree-granting institution, in addition to maintaining its 2+2 program.
This partnership between Georgia State and IUGB could lead to improved communication between K-12 schools and universities in Côte d'Ivoire and allow college preparedness initiatives to be more effective, according to Jun Liu, GSU's associate provost for international initiatives.
"We need high-quality higher education, which relies on high-quality basic education in schools," Liu said at the institute's closing ceremony. "That is why your country has the vision to put more emphasis on school education – to send more highly-qualified high school students to universities. When they succeed in college and beyond, that gives life to your schools and programs."
For more information about Georgia State's partnership with IUGB and its other international initiatives, visit http://www.gsu.edu/international-initiatives. To learn more about the COE's international programs, visit http://education.gsu.edu/international.