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> Programs > College Prep

College Prep Curriculum & Guidance

The importance of a college-prep curriculum extends far beyond the students who may ultimately apply to some of the nation’s most elite universities. College-prep programs have the potential to change the course of a student’s adult life. Attending college is a realistic goal, well within the reach of any student whose school starts preparing the student early and convinces the student that college is attainable and valuable.

Many underserved high school students feel ‘going to college’ does not apply to them because it has never been reflected in their families’ or their communities’ experiences. Yet, the benefits of going to college and earning a degree extend far beyond getting a good career and earning a decent income.

Sonoran Schools delivers a robust college-prep program, with individualized guidance aimed at helping students attain their college and career goals. 

College-prep at Sonoran Schools encompasses:

  • Creation and regular review of a student’s four year, high school plan
  • Four high school diploma tracks, including a STEM Distinction diploma
  • ACT, ACT Aspire, PSAT, and SAT standardized test preparation
  • ACT, ACT Aspire, PSAT, and SAT standardized test-taking opportunities
  • Enrollment in Naviance, a college planning and career assessment program

College Counseling at Sonoran Schools encompasses:

  • Volunteer opportunity counseling
  • Internship opportunity counseling
  • College campus visits
  • College representative high school presentations
  • Financial Aid and scholarship counseling
  • College research support
  • College applications support
  • U.S. Congressional Award preparation through the Sonoran Schools Mentorship Program
  • College and financial aid resources for parents and students
  • Individualized support in helping students find the right college, submit applications, navigate college financing, apply for scholarships, prepare for their first interview, and be completely ready for college.

Read our College Counseling Handbook for students and parents HERE.

Contact a College Counselor:

For more information about the ACT, ACT Aspire, PSAT, and SAT, visit College Board and ACT.

College Enrollment

In its 2018 College Enrollment & Completion Report, the Arizona Board of Regents stated:

Current enrollment data reflects that in 2017, nearly half – 47.4 percent − of Arizona’s high school graduating class did not enroll in a two- or four-year college after graduation, a rate that has remained static over the past two years. This substantially lags the national average.

If educational attainment trends stay on their current trajectory, only 17.2 percent of today’s ninth graders will graduate from a four-year college by 2028.

Yet, according to a report from Georgetown University, “Recovery: Job Growth and Educational Requirements through 2020”, 65% of all jobs in the U.S.A. will require post-secondary education, and a key finding is that ‘employers will seek cognitive skills such as communication and analytics from job applicants’.

DECA award winners

College-prep is therefore a vital component of our commitment to our students. In a state where 30% of the public high schools produce 83% of its college graduates, a college-prep high school environment is critical to moving that needle, improving student achievement, and preparing students for life in the real world

Those who do not finish high school are much more likely to be unemployed, and when employed, their earnings fall far below those with a high school degree or higher - the economic consequences of that also affecting the wider community.

College-prep at Sonoran Schools is:

  • Helping students understand that college is attainable for everyone;
  • Helping students develop good habits to lead a successful life and be successful in college;
  • Providing students with opportunities to take advanced level courses, learning to handle a college workload;
  • Ensuring students are ready academically, emotionally, and socially.

Graduation Standards

At Sonoran Schools, we commit to providing students with the tools and support to begin the journey toward college. As college-prep academies, we expect our students to graduate, fully prepared to enter college and be successful.

College awareness and readiness are embedded in our culture and curriculum, beginning in elementary school. We offer classes in middle school to help students develop skills and maturity, and offer career exploration classes in middle and high school.

As STEM-focused, college-prep public charter schools, we choose to hold our students accountable to the following minimum graduation standards:

Mathematics: 4 credits
Language Arts: 4 credits
Science: 3 credits
Social Studies: 3 credits
World Language: 2 credits

Technology/Engineering: 2 credits
Fine Arts: 1 credit
Physical Education: 1 credit
General Electives: 2 credits
Community Service: 20 hours

College graduates

Students also have the option of choosing to pursue one of two more rigorous graduation tracks, as well as pursuing a STEM distinction on their diploma. The more rigorous tracks increase the science, world language, and community service requirements, have a minimum GPA requirement, and add minimum requirements for Advance Placement exams and scores.

The STEM distinction increases the math, science, and technology/ engineering requirements. In addition, a student must complete a STEM Capstone project, maintain a minimum GPA in STEM courses, provide evidence of three years of high-school participation in STEM extracurricular programs, and complete a STEM Career job shadowing experience.

Our Mentorship Program

In addition to providing rigorous diploma track options, Sonoran Schools offers a unique opportunity to motivated students: the Sonoran Schools Mentorship Program (SSMP). This program is designed to help motivated students improve their skills, open their minds, and expand their horizons. The program includes national/international trips; college visits; internship opportunities; panel discussions; and leadership camps.

Leadership camps provide an opportunity for students to learn and develop the skill of leadership. Leaders are not born; they are created and molded. Being given the chance to lead is the first step in becoming an active and influential member of a community and the SSMP provides unique opportunities for students to engage with their peers in learning skills such as communication, teamwork, motivation, and delegation.

Eligibility for the SSMP is based on:

  • Teacher recommendation
  • Minimum GPA
  • Positive behavior record
  • Interview

The SSMP's program's focus on community service; academic challenge; career evaluation; personal development; healthy  lifestyle; and adeventure and discovery complements the goals of the U.S. Congressional Awards (congressionalaward.org).

Pursuit of a U.S. Congressional Award provides a unique opportunity for self-exploration through voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration.

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