Blog: What does it take for students to be College Prepared?

TK-12 Pathway to College: How Thrive Gets Every Student College Prepared

By Carmina Osuna and Jamie Little, Thrive Directors

At Thrive, we work hard to make sure that every student graduates college-prepared, with the skills and mindsets required to excel both academically and socially in college. Our program intentionally weaves college preparation into students’ experiences from kindergarten through high school graduation, engaging students in rigorous academic work, robust relationships with mentors, and inspiring visits to college campuses across the region.



College Readiness at Thrive’s Elementary Schools


What we do:

From day one of our students’ journeys at Thrive, we support them in making outstanding academic growth. Last year, most grade levels demonstrated rapid growth, in the 99th percentile, in reading. We accomplish this by tailoring students’ academic pathways so each student experiences “just right” learning everyday  - and no one spends time being stuck, frustrated, or bored. We craft each student’s educational environment by using a constant stream of fresh data to plan whole group, small group, and individual instruction that allows us to meet each child’s unique needs.


We spark children’s career interests through project-based learning, exposing students to a wide range of specializations.  Students learn from experts like engineers, small business owners, non-profit managers, and artists.  These experiences help students to unlock their own passions and pathways, paving the way to a collegiate course of study.


What parents can do:

At the elementary level, the most critical thing parents can do to support their child’s growth in school is to read with them.  The volume of books read and the time spent reading “just right” books is the single greatest indicator of reading growth.  Parents can also support the development of fluency and automaticity by helping students to review sight words and math facts. Websites like Fun4theBrain and Xtra Math offer resources for fun at-home learning.


College Readiness at Thrive’s Middle Schools


What we do:

As our students grow and develop, we work to ensure that they are doing more than mastering rote academic skills.  Our teachers regularly create opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking, grappling, and evaluating solutions. In math, students participate in Number Talks, short discussions around problems that aim to build number sense and flexibility. In English, students wrestle with big themes across sets of complex texts that represent different biases and points of view.


We help our middle schoolers set short- and long-term plans.  In long-term planning, students explore their personal ambitions for college and career.  Once they name these hopes and dreams for the future, we help students see how their day-to-day learning drives towards those dreams.  For example, a student hoping to become a chef or restaurant owner understands how their math curriculum connects to small business finance and how writing effectively for an audience is part of an effective marketing plan.

What parents can do:

Parents can support their children’s developing cognition by making it a habit to request that they articulate and back up their ideas with reasons and evidence, and encouraging them to evaluate circumstances from multiple perspectives and weigh possible solutions.  Parents can invite their children to listen to a favorite podcast or news source together. Ask your child: What is sticking out to you?  What are you questioning? Who agrees and disagrees with this point of view?  Why? What else do you want to know before deciding what you think? Activities like these can help your child get a head start in college-level critical thinking and discourse.


As children become more independent, it is also important to monitor online time. Popular programs do not always engage students with rich content, and children need to spend time engaged with great books, physical activity, and face-to-face interactions as well.


College Readiness at Thrive High


What we do:

At Thrive High we create a master schedule that automatically leads every student along the path of A-G readiness, ensuring that every Thrive graduate has completed the courses required to be eligible to apply to four-year California colleges in the UC and CSU systems. Our students are set up with advisors and mentors who support them with goal setting and attainment and promote their academic and social emotional growth.


Our College and Career Nights offer families opportunities to stay informed and learn how to best support their children as they compile resumes and apply to summer programs, jobs, internships, and universities. As college entrance exams approach, students receive ACT prep woven into English and math curriculum. We also partner with Mesa College, making it possible for students to take Math and English college courses at our school during the day.

What parents can do:

Parents can support their teenagers on their path to college by participating in college events at school, giving students permission to participate in summer programs and internships, and sharing resources and connections via Parent Square so that all Thrive families feel confident and prepared to guide their children to college success.


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