Michigan 4-H increases college-readiness and college success

Michigan 4-H is preparing teens for a successful transition to college and transforming lives of young people across our state.

Post-secondary education and skills to succeed in college and the workplace are essential to our Michigan youth population and Michigan’s economy, yet today’s students are largely unprepared. One in three Michigan public school graduates from the class of 2009 needed remedial course work when they enrolled in a state college or university according to a 2011 report from the Center for Educational Performance and Information.

Alliance for Excellent Education explains that 90 percent of the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs require some post-secondary education. Today – more than ever before – teens need access to programs that expand their horizons, allow personal growth and provide career exploration.

Michigan 4-H is addressing these needs and challenges by helping prepare youth for successful transition to adulthood – both academically and socially. Michigan 4-H offers five Michigan State University pre-college programs: 4-H Exploration Days, 4-H Capitol Experience, 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, 4-H Discovery Camp and the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council. Michigan 4-H pre-college program participants from the classes of 2009 to 2011 are currently attending college at a 77 percent higher rate than their Michigan peers.

Not only are 4-H pre-college program alumni better prepared for college, they also do better while there. A 2009 follow up study assessed 4-H pre-college program impact on students’ transition to college. A total of 451 college undergraduates who were Michigan 4-H pre-college program alumni received a web-based survey and provided a 28 percent response rate.

Key findings were:

  • Michigan 4-H pre-college programs create a pathway to college and workforce success.
  • Not only were the 4-H pre-college program alumni more likely to enroll in college, they were also more likely to stay in college and be successful.
  • More than 85 percent of 4-H pre-college program alumni attending college said their 4-H program experience improved their skills in leadership, communication, decision-making and responsibility.
  • As college students they were more likely to have at least a “B” or 3.0 average than their peers.

Two research-based tenets, youth development and experiential education, provide the foundation for each of these programs. Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles reflect how national research and practical knowledge define positive youth development. Experiential education research is applied through learning and making meaning from direct experience. By expanding the horizons of middle and high school age youth, allowing personal growth, and providing college exploration and career exploration, Michigan 4-H is preparing teens for a successful transition to college and transforming lives of young people across our state.

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