Course to College

Iowa College Aid’s program to help build a college-going culture.

College-Going Culture

Course to College allows schools to build a college going culture by implementing steps toward post-secondary enrollment.

Iowa College Aid provides five uniquely different opportunities for Iowa high schools to promote postsecondary education and build a college-going culture in the Course to College program, previously known as the 3-Step Process. GEAR UP 1.0 (2008-2014) schools reported that College Application Campaign with seniors was among the most effective activities for engaging students in the college going process. GEAR UP Iowa 2.0 (2014-2021) is committed to the implementation of Course to College across all seven years of the grant, to develop a college-going culture in all partner districts.

Build a College-Going Culture

Students who attend high schools with a strong college climate are more likely to take the steps toward college enrollment. Iowa College Aid's Course to College program is available for Iowa high schools to help build a college-going culture that will encourage students to plan for and become excited about their futures.

Register now for 2017-18!

See highlights from previous years! (Video)

Year 1:

  • Facilitators will connect with high school counselors to share information about the Course to College Process and encourage 7th graders to get involved if possible
  • Ideas for GEAR UP student involvement: participate in college fact trivia, school staff wear college apparel, schools host financial savings workshops for families, teachers share their college story
  • Participation Goal: 20% of GEAR UP Iowa high schools signed up (5 out of 23 high schools)

Year 2:

  • Facilitators will spread message to high schools about the Course to College Process and encourage 8th graders to get involved if possible.
  • Ideas for GEAR UP student involvement: Wear college apparel during College Application Campaign, hold a pep rally for seniors on College Decision Day or around FAFSA Completion Initiative events, have 8th graders write motivation letters to seniors on College Decision Day
  • Participation Goal: 30% of GEAR UP Iowa high schools signed up (7 schools)

Year 3:

  • Facilitators will work with high schools to sign up for Course to College Process and organize at least one event. Encourage 9th graders to get involved.
  • Ideals for GEAR UP student involvement: pair GEAR UP students with seniors to shadow them during College Decision Day or through online college searches, teachers wear college gear and talk about experiences with GU students
  • Participation Goal: 50% (12 high schools)

Year 4:

  • Facilitators will work with high schools to sign up for Course to College Process and organize more than one event. Encourage 10th graders to get involved.
  • Ideals for GEAR UP student involvement: hold a mini version of College Decision Day where GEAR UP students make a list of their top 5 colleges, develop a contest they can do on social media
  • Participation Goal: 80% (18 high schools)

Year 5:

  • Facilitators will work with high schools to sign up for Course to College Process and organize at least one event for each step of the process. Recommend 11th graders to get involved.
  • Ideals for GEAR UP student involvement: GEAR UP students plan one of the events (similar to how juniors plan prom for seniors), write an aspirational letter to middle school students. Involve families by inviting them to events or assisting as volunteers.
  • Participation Goal: 100% (23 high schools)

Year 6:

  • Facilitators will work with high schools to sign up for Course to College Process and organize at least one event for each step of the process. Require 12th graders to participate.
  • Ideals for GEAR UP student involvement: juniors plan an event for GEAR UP seniors, hold a parent panel where last year’s senior parents give advice to current parents, similar panel for students, contest between districts through Iowa College Aid/GEAR UP Iowa (# of events, # of student applications, FAFSA’s, etc.).
  • Facilitators work with schools to establish a Course to College Process guide to ensure sustainability after GU cohort leaves district.
  • Participation Goal: 100% (23 high schools)

Year 7:

  • Facilitators will support high schools in continuing the Course to College Process. Serve as a resource as schools implement the events outlined in year 6.
  • Participation Goal: 80% (18 high schools — drop off anticipated since cohort will no longer be in high school)