4-H Exploration Days prepare youth for college and career success

MSU Extension’s 4-H Exploration Days conference demonstrates success in college and career preparation for Michigan youths.

Studies show that 62 percent of Michigan’s jobs will require postsecondary education by 2018, yet as few as 17 percent of Michigan high school graduates are adequately prepared for college.

Michigna State University (MSU) Extension is building capacity among Michigan young people through programs like 4-H Exploration Days, which helps prepare students for a successful transition to college and life as a contributing adult. 4-H Exploration Days is MSU’s largest pre-college program for youth ages 11 to 19. In its forty-third year, the 2012 program was attended by 2,466 people from 81 Michigan counties and a guest delegation from Belize; 14 percent were people of color.

4-H Exploration Days is designed to:

  • Increase youths’ responsibility, confidence, independence, accountability, problem-solving, decision-making and time management skills
  • Increase youths’ communication, team work, citizenship and leadership skills
  • Foster participants’ ability to meet new people and make new friends from different places and backgrounds
  • Develop and expand career and personal interests
  • Increase college exploration and access to the MSU campus and its resources
  • Develop social and academic skills needed for a successful transition to college and life as an adult

Student tracker data provided through the National Student Clearinghouse shows 4-H Exploration Days participants who attended the program between 2004 and 2011 and were high school graduates from 2009 to 2011 are currently attending college at a 77 percent higher rate than their Michigan peers.

2012 4-H Exploration Days survey results showed the program increased participants’ interest in and readiness for college:

  • 97.4 percent plan to attend college
  • 97.6 percent said they felt confident they could complete a college degree
  • 88.1 percent said the program better prepared them for college
  • 87 percent said the program made them excited to go to college
  • 74.6 percent said the program increased their knowledge of different majors, career paths and opportunities at MSU
  • 2012 youth participants also reported the program helped them develop the following important life skills:
  • 93.2 percent said time management
  • 93.1 percent said socializing and making new friends
  • 92.6 percent said accepting people who are different from them
  • 92.5 percent said adapting to new living arrangements
  • 92.3 percent said making decisions/choices
  • 91.8 percent said the ability to follow through and complete tasks
  • 91.0 percent said  communication
  • 91.0 percent said being independent

Through 4-H Exploration Days,MSU Extension 4-H Youth Development transforms lives as it prepares youths academically and socially for higher education, develops life skills needed for transition to adulthood and creates a pathway to college and workforce success.

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