Creating a “Culture of College”

Blog Author: Dr. Dustin Breithaupt – Assistant Superintendent, Lytle ISD

When I was young, my parents talked incessantly about the need for me to go to college. From an early age, it was repeated at the dinner table, in the car, at family barbecues and church functions. The only problem with my parents’ rugged determination was — they had never gone to college. Indeed, no one in my large, extended family with deep farming and blue collar roots had gone to college and we didn’t know many people who did. So while my parents were sincere in their push to send me to college, they didn’t have the tools to help me navigate such a complicated bureaucracy. I never grasped that goofing off my sophomore year of high school could impact my GPA so profoundly that it could lock me out of a good university. Waiting until my senior year to even start thinking about which schools I might be interested in was stressful and overwhelming, but I just didn’t know any better. My high school counselors met with me a few times, but they spoke in unfamiliar acronyms like TSI, SAT, and FAFSA. And the whole idea of taking out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to pursue a teaching degree in “interdisciplinary studies” didn’t exactly sit well with my folks who assumed college would turn me into a doctor or a lawyer.

While my parents couldn’t provide me with academic advising, they had instilled in me the value of hard work and grit. So while I struggled through those first few semesters, over time I learned to manage deadlines, acquired study skills and figured out how to balance a full-time job with full-time school. Obviously my story has a happy ending, but man, the learning curve was steep and many of today’s students lack even the familial support that was so crucial to my success.

Enter – CEN! Innovative public education models like Collegiate Edu-Nation give us the chance to save first-generation college students from rural areas from experiences like mine. By designing and articulating a P-20 model, creating a culture of college-level achievement can begin YEARS before mine did, preparing our students for academic and economic success. As Lytle ISD begins to roll-out practices like Instructional Rounds, we have a unique opportunity to highlight strong instructional practices and increase academic rigor across our system. Through programs like AVID, we can proactively teach students the college-readiness skills they need to be successful in post-secondary education and help counsel first-generation college students so they have a clear roadmap to success long before the spring of their senior year.

We are about to open an in-house coffee shop that will allow students across our system to be involved with an Edu-business that will bring real-world learning, income and much needed caffeine to our students and staff. By providing these kinds of experiences alongside an expansion of our P-Tech program to include new career pathways like cybersecurity, we are building our capacity to offer Lytle students the opportunity to develop college-level skills without taking on massive student debt. So to all the future Lytle ISD college graduates out there — we’re amping up our “culture of college” to help you achieve great things!

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