Students who are the first in their family to attend college talk about the challenges they face


Student Glossary of College Application Terms: The college application process is filled with special terms, forms, deadlines, requirements, standardized tests, college searches and visits—and more. This glossary covers terms in relation to: (1) Applying; (2) College entrance exams; (4) Types of institutions; (3) College acceptance terms (4) Some college lingo; (5) Types of post-secondary degrees. We’ve created a separate section for the financial aid process.

College Terms for Parents (Spanish) | College Terms for Parents (English): If the college application process is daunting for students, it can be even more daunting for parents, especially if they have no college experience themselves. This glossary covers the following areas: (1) Types of post-secondary institutions; (2) High school courses and grades for college; (3) Admission tests; (4) College application vocabulary; (5) The “College Search”; (6) College cost vocabulary; (7) Paying for college (financial Aad); (8) Some campus vocabulary; and (9) Types of post-secondary degrees.

Hear Us Out—Students Talk About Going to College: In 2010, WKCD trained and supported 24 youth researchers in nine high schools in two cities (Chattanooga and Seattle) to survey their peers about the help they were—or were not—getting on the path to college. Close to 5,000 students completed the student researchers’ survey and another 225 participated in focus groups and interviews. The students also surveyed counselors at their schools. The results were stunning. This report summarizes the data student researchers collected and the focus group and interview comments.

College Matters—A Short Guide for Youth Advocates: In our “Hear Us Out” project, youth spoke passionately about the challenges they faced gathering the support they need for college. As these youth looked around for places where they could get help, they talked about youth-serving organizations in the community as a potential source for the support they cannot get at school or at home. In response, we’ve put together this 12-page guide, College Matters, for organizations that work directly with teenage youth afterschool or in the summer and want to help them put and keep college in sight.

Planning Checklists: Grade 9 Checklist | Grade 10 Checklist | Grade 11 Checklist | Grade 12 Checklist

Stoking students’ college motivation: Inspiring quotes and books


In WKCD's recent documentation of American high schools that prize student-centered learning, we identified six core teaching practices. We also examined the complex roles teachers played in these schools. We were reminded, again and again, that schools do not rise or fall—and students do not thrive or fail—based on structures and practices alone. Institutions and students alike depend on the ability of teachers, in the course of any day, to take on a range of roles. In the case of student-centered learning environments, these roles include curriculum planner, classroom facilitator and coach, assessor, adviser, connector, and communicator.
Last spring, WKCD invited teenagers nationwide to send us the best nonfiction essay they had written on a topic that they cared about deeply. “We’re looking for diverse voices on diverse topics: family, school, learning, relationships, race, culture, origins, religion, body image, social media, conflict, peace, change, our planet . . . . or whatever topic you choose,” the contest flyer said. We received over 200 submissions and picked 29 winning essays, from high school students nationwide. Click here to read more, see the list of winners, download a PDF of the resulting book or purchase a hard copy.
It’s not surprising that adolescents respond well to writing assignments that invite them to speak from their own experience. For years, WKCD has provided a stage for teen writers and thinkers to make their voices heard on topics ranging from family and identity to school reform and inequality. Today’s heightened call for narrative writing by middle and high school students reinforces this social-emotional connection: when teenagers are given the chance to write on issues that matter to them, their words can shine. Here, we offer a half dozen writing prompts that we've used to engage adolescent learners as journalists, essayists, and documenters.
This short manual describes the process and questions behind WKCD’s best-selling book Fires in the Bathroom. The insights in Fires in the Bathroom reflect a fundamental feature of adolescence that is curiously ignored by most current school reform efforts: the need for teenagers to enter into meaningful partnerships with adults. Increasingly, research suggests that addressing this developmental need within the school setting has significant positive effects on students’ motivation, engagement, and academic achievement. If we seek those outcomes as an educational priority, improving communication between students and their teachers would be a good place to start.



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Growing Up in San Francisco's Tenderloin District
For several months now, WKCD has been working with youth at the Tenderloin Boys & Girls Club in San Francisco to create a photo essay book about their "village," just blocks from the city's wealthy financial district. Known for its population of homeless and addicts and a history of ill-repute, the Tenderloin has also become a bustling home to immigrant families, drawn to its low rents. Since 2011, the Tenderloin Clubhouse has offered an award-winning photo voice program to its youth. In Our Village: San Francisco's Tenderloin Through the Eyes of Its Youth will present the images, voices, and perspectives from these young photo journalists, growing up in what most regard as San Francisco's most troubled neighborhood. It's a story you won't want to miss.
Student and Youth Voice: Asking, Listening, and Taking Action
When WKCD embraced student voice as part of our guiding principles in 2001, the idea that youth should be welcomed as crucial investors in improving their schools and communities had few advocates. The research on the power of student engagement was commensurately sparse. To us, however, it made gut sense to privilege student and youth voice and vision. So for thirteen years WKCD has supported youth as collaborators: in our books and other publications (e.g., our “Fires” series); in survey projects nationwide; in more than 75 grants to student research groups across the globe; and in the feature stories we produce for this website. Here is an inventory of all we've created with youth as partners.
Choices: Essays from Incarcerated Youth
Among the submissions for our "Stirred But Not Shaken" writing contest were twelve remarkable essays from youth at the Northern Viriginia Detention Center, passed on by their English teacher, Jonathan Jelliffe. The Center has a school so that youth don’t fall behind while they’re locked up, although some of the youth arrive at as dropouts. Not surprisingly, it’s a hard place to keep school. The youth, mostly male, ages 12 to 18, stay at the facility for two weeks to several months, although some remain for as long as six months. Jelliffe does all he can to bring words alive for his students, connecting them to their personal experiences with mistakes and growth.
Education Week Commentary: Integrating Social-Emotional Learning Into High School
In a recent Education Week commentary, Barbara Cervone and Kathleen Cushman ask: What would it take to weave social and emotional learning into the daily fabric of our nation's high schools? What distinct practices, programs, and structures help schools embed SEL into ongoing teaching and learning? How does this effort vary from school to school, in response to the conditions that make a school unique and shape its climate? Indepth examination of five diverse high schools that make SEL core provide answers to these and other questionsand suggest policy implications.
Growth Mindset and Why It Matters
Few ideas about learning have made their way as quickly into the lexicon of educators as growth mindset. WKCD has assembled five short videos that provide a lively introduction to growth mindset and why it matters, for students as well as teachers. At the end of each video we offer suggestions for activities and assignments, for use by teachers (as part of a professional development workshop) and by students (as part of their classroom learning). We encourage you to browse through the presentation and pick those videos that work for your situation and audience—and to amend the suggested activities.



and the power of social-emotional learning



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special collections

Student/Youth Voice

College Matters

Global Youth Voices

Great American Dreaming

Just Listen!

Mentors That Matter

Service Learning

Students as Allies in School

Student Research for Action

Voices from the Middle Grades

Youth in Policy: Civics2

Youth on the Trail 2012


popular wkcd
publications [pdf

A Guide to Creating Teen-
Adult Public Forums

Cultural Conversations through Creative Writing

Documenting Immigration Stories

First Ask, Then Listen: How Your
Students Can Help You Teach
Them Better

Making Writing Essential to
Teen Lives

Profiles of Politically Active Youth

Queer Youth Advice for Educators

SAT Bronx

The Schools We Need: Creating
Small High Schools That Work
for Us



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Fires in the Mind

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Fires in the Middle School Bathroom

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