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Go visit college

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

The leaders of the Nebraska P-16 Initiative are promoting the value of a college campus visit as a way to encourage Nebraska students to attend college. I chair the P-16 Initiative and my co-chairs are J.B. Milliken, President of the University of Nebraska; Commissioner of Education, Dr. Roger Breed; state Senator Greg Adams, Chairman of the Education Committee; and Liz Koop, President and CEO of EducationQuest Foundation.

President Milliken pointed to statistics noting, "Young adults in the U.S. used to be the best educated in the world; now we have slipped from #1 to #12 in the ranking of adults between ages 25 and 34 with a college degree. Our nation and our state need to do better to offer our young people the best chance for success and to be competitive in a global economy."

Liz Koop added, "Taking a visit to a college campus is a vital first-step for Nebraska high school students in their pursuit of education beyond high school. That is why we have developed a new campaign called "Go.Visit.College!" This campaign encourages Nebraska's high schools and colleges to work together to coordinate group and individual campus visits."

Sen. Adams encouraged students and parents to look for funding options, saying, "There are resources available to students. The idea of not being able to afford college should not stop anyone from going. There are grants, scholarships, and a host of possibilities available. A high school guidance counselor is a great place to start asking questions."

Commissioner Breed pointed to a study by the U/.S. Census Bureau stating, "All of the jobs added to the United States economy since 1970 have been jobs that require education beyond a high school diploma."

College and university visits are an important part of the college planning process. Students report that college visits have a significant influence on them as they consider where to go to college. Our message is that visiting a college campus is a vital activity for high school juniors and seniors.

Campus visits provide an opportunity to explore academic programs, to talk with students and professors, and to tour residence halls, classrooms and research facilities. Visits provide an opportunity to experience what a college or university has to offer and can help students find the right fit for them.

Campus visits can be especially important for students who don't think they are a good fit for college, or students whose parents may not have gone to college. Many students report changing their perception once they've seen a campus up close and in person.

This effort is about encouraging more of our high school graduates to attend college. We want to move Nebraska into the Top 10 college-going state. The most recent statistics from the National Center for Educational Statistics rank Nebraska 19th in the nation, with 64.5 percent of our high school graduates going on to college. It is above the national average, but short of the top 10. We can do better.

Earning a college degree benefits students. It benefits Nebraska companies looking to hire qualified workers, and it benefits the communities across our state as we work to recruit the advanced and specialized companies that offer quality, higher-paying jobs.

If you're a junior or senior, you should be preparing for ACT and SAT exams, talking with your parents and counselors about the colleges that interest you. You should make plans to visit a college in person. Nebraska is home to an outstanding range of higher educational institutions. Whether you visit as part of a school group or plan an individual tour with family or friends, colleges and universities welcome high school students for visits year round.

College fairs are a great way to get started and identify places of interest. This month, college fairs will be held in Lincoln, Omaha and western Nebraska.

* The Scottsbluff/Gering Area College Fair is Sunday, Oct. 10 from 1 to 3:30 pm at the Gering Civic Center.

* In Lincoln, students and families can visit Southeast Community College from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17.

* The Omaha Area College Fair, being held on Sunday, Oct. 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.

More information on college planning is available at www.knowhow2gonebraska.org.

By providing students with opportunities to go visit college, we are preparing them to take the next all-important step in their education. Thank you to the schools that take the initiative by planning campus visits for juniors and seniors. We want every high school and every family to make visiting college a priority for their students.


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Gov. Dave Heineman
State Issues