College Tripwires 

Over the 2014-2015 school year, the Student Voice Team conducted an investigation into the barriers high school students face in the transition to college and postsecondary education. We interviewed academics, teachers, policymakers, parents, administrators, and of course, students, across the state to get a better picture of the challenges inherent in the college entrance process.


By combining data about college transitions in Kentucky with authentic voices of students experiencing those transitions firsthand, we hoped to bridge the gap between education policy and practice and stimulate a conversation about what it takes to create a smooth and accessible journey to college for all students. 


The result of months of research and roundtables was Uncovering the Tripwires to Postsecondary Success, a report that highlighted three main barriers to college transitions: the birthright lottery, or the set of socioeconomic and family factors that impact students’ ability to reach and complete college; veiled college costs, many of which start in high school and rise with every year; and college and career unreadiness, or the lack of learned habits and skills to succeed in college. 


An eight part series of student commentaries was released in the Courier Journal in tandem with the report. The series further investigated issues in postsecondary education, from labeling students as “gifted” to college affordability to the high workloads of guidance counselors.


Read Our Takes

June 14, 2015

From Tripwires to Postsecondary Success

Gentry Fitch

A high school diploma is no longer the same commodity it was half a century ago.

June 14, 2015

What Middle School Students Think About "College and Career"

Ashton Bishop

If, like me, you’re a student at Green County Middle School in Greensburg, Ky., you cannot avoid hearing the phrase “college and career ready,” a fact that sometimes prompts an automatic eye roll.

June 14, 2015

Poor Students Need More from Policymakers

Amanda Whalstedt

I understood early that as a kid growing up without a lot in Appalachia, doing well in school meant I was not always seen as a poor kid. So staying on top of my schoolwork has been my plan from the beginning, and that’s probably why my own father felt compelled to spell it out for me once: “We’re poor. You know that, right?”

June 14, 2015

The High Price of Kentucky's Remedial Education

Mariah Mowbray

As I worked myself into a frenzy this spring writing a string of never-ending essays for what seemed like every financial-aid scholarship in existence, I wondered if I would be able or ready to take on the burden of a loan. I can only imagine what I’d be facing if I also needed to worry about paying for college classes that didn’t count toward my degree.

June 14, 2015

Guidance Counselors Need Help, Too

Susie Smith

The role of a high school guidance counselor has evolved rapidly in the past few decades, becoming an even more essential component of a student’s path to education beyond high school. No longer simply about scheduling, high school guidance counseling is more about being able to advocate for and advise students as they make important transitions to postsecondary life.

June 14, 2015

The Problem with the Gifted Label

Eliza Jane Schaeffer

Educators call me gifted, but really I’m just lucky. While I dissected a variety of animals in Academy Advanced Biology, students outside of the magnet program dissected none. While I participated in a month-long qualitative analysis in Academy Advanced Chemistry, my peers in other classes did not. While I am taught how to approach applying for college in a weekly zero hour seminar, other students, who may need it more than I, are not.

June 14, 2015

Don't Let High-Achieving Minority Students Fall through the College Cracks

Naomi Kellogg

I will always remember the first play I was in. The “gifted” group in my first grade class put on a production of “Elmer’s Colors.” In the story, Elmer, who is an extremely colorful elephant, learns to accept his uniqueness around all of the other elephants that are shades of gray. Cast as Elmer, it took me only a few moments to realize the differences between my classmates and me.

June 14, 2015

Affordability and the College Dropout Crisis

Andrew Brennen

For those of us nearing the end of adolescence, we are experiencing the last time we can somewhat irresponsibly run around doing whatever we please with minor regard to consequence. There’s a plan to follow on the path to maturity: Go to college, spend four years studying harder than we ever have before, graduate, and prepare to drop to our knees begging along with our fellow graduates for a job that probably doesn’t yet exist while straddled with a total of somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion of debt from student loans.

Read the News Coverage

Prichard Committee
October 1, 2014

Students’ Input Elevating Policy Issues

The Lane Report
June 12, 2015

Students group investigates college transitions, uncovers “tripwires”

Prichard Committee
January 13, 2017

Student Voice Team Looking Deeper at College Readiness

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