Michigan 4-H helps youth prepare for and succeed in college

College transition study findings show that Michigan 4-H participation increases college aspirations, readiness and successful transition to college.

Increasing college enrollment rates has become a national focus as the need for a better educated and skilled workforce becomes widely recognized.  Getting enrolled in post-secondary education, however, doesn’t guarantee credential completion. Sadly, many students drop out because they enter college without the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. One program addressing this concern is the  Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development program.

Equipping young people with the life skills needed to stay and succeed in college is a strength of 4-H. Programs within 4-H are geared to help youth develop social and academic skills needed for a successful transition to college and life as an adult. Results from a 2013 research study at Michigan State University showed that life skills developed through Michigan 4-H assist the successful transition to college that results in college success. The study defined college success as adjusting to a new environment, responsible independence, thriving academically and socially, and staying enrolled in college. Key findings include:

  • 4-H alumni rated significantly higher than the comparison group in nurturing relationships, team work, responsible citizenship, communication, healthy lifestyle and self-responsibility.
  • 4-H alumni enter college with the ability and determination to complete necessary tasks, solve problems and seek out needed assistance.
  • 4-H alumni are more likely to accept people who are different from them.
  • 4-H alumni credited their 4-H participation for helping them develop civic responsibility. 
  • 4-H alumni were likely to successfully balance good grades (3.0 GPA or better) while also employed.

Regarding what the specific content focus is, two research-based tenets, youth development and experiential education, provide the foundation for all 4-H programming. 4-H participants develop critical life skills, gain new content knowledge and see themselves in a bigger context than their local community. In addition to 4-H programming at the club and county level, 4-H members have access to multiple state level pre-college programs that expand their horizons, allow personal growth and provide career exploration to get them on the right track for their post-secondary education goals.

More young people entering college need to be ready to navigate the demands, challenges and rigor of college life. 4-H participation helps young people prepare for and succeed in college.

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