College Ready Program in Jefferson County

April 24th, 2019

After working with high school students in Jefferson County for the past six years, Open Campus Coordinator, Jennifer Oppenlander, has worked with many students gearing up to start at the university, and many of which get overwhelmed by the final steps needed to start college. If you ask most people, many would be surprised to learn that the time period between receiving the acceptance letter and starting classes can be one of the most daunting, and equally critical, steps in the college journey. Complexities with the enrollment process, and what comes after, many times discourage students who lack the institutional knowledge of how to navigate the system. Many students' success, especially first generation students, depends on the "secret handshake" of the enrollment process - and that's where OSU Open Campus' new program, College Ready, steps in.

Why does this happen? 

There are numerous factors that go into the "summer melt" issue, as it's been universally coined, however, one of the most prevalent is the complexities and list of to-do's of the post-admissions process.

"After making the decision to attend college, there are many tasks that need to be completed for students to successfully matriculate," says Open Campus Coordinator, Jennifer Oppenlander, who launched the College Ready program last year. "When summer begins they no longer have access to high school counselors and have not developed any sort of relationship with the college or university they will be attending. Often families do not have the knowledge and/or resources available to help students be successful."

The tasks, often overlooked, include registering for housing and dining plans, paying deposits, finishing up financial aid forms, budgeting for expenses such as books and insurance, taking placement tests, and registering for orientations.

And in places like rural Jefferson County where Jennifer works, "Some do not have access to internet which makes it difficult for students to even receive emails with next steps," says Oppenlander.

For what many would consider menial tasks, the numbers are staggering. As many as 10-40% of “college-intending” students don’t enroll for fall term classes after being admitted. These rates are highest among low to middle income students and those with lower academic standing. And compared to peers planning to attend a 4-year college or university, rates are much higher among students who plan to attend community college.

So how does College Ready help students avoid the "summer melt" issue?

College Ready's main focus involves connecting college-bound students with a success coach to guide students through the matriculation process as well as throughout their freshman year of college.

The College Ready coaches have 7 main objectives that all involve universities maintaining a trusting relationship with students and their families.

1. Assisting students after college admittance and complete all to do tasks. Some of which include paying deposits, accepting award letters, registering for orientation programs, taking placement exams, and uploading immunization records

2. Providing guidance and support navigating school portals and
websites

3. Creating a resource guide for students with contacts and services available

4. Developing a budget and time management skills for students to use while at college

5. Interpreting credit articulation tables and what community college credits transfer and where

6. Helping students understand degree pathways

7. Identifying programs and/or scholarships that can be utilized to provide financial and other assistance

Want more information about College Ready? Contact Jennifer Oppenlander at 541-615-1475 or Jennifer.Oppenlander@oregonstate.edu.


Open Campus would like to extend a special thank you to Jennifer Oppenlander for taking on this initiative, and for all of her work towards finding a solution.