CTE

Breaking Down Barriers: First-Generation Students Make STEM Premier Work for Them

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Historically speaking, the deck has been stacked against young students whose parents do not possess a college degree; students otherwise known as first-generation (or “first-gen”) college students. For example, a 2013 study found that only 17 percent of first-gen students earned a college degree within ten years of their high school sophomore year; a much lower rate than their peers who have parents with a college education.

But at the end of the day, first-generation students who are deemed “college-ready” persist just as successfully at the post-secondary level as continuing generation students. Thousands of STEM Premier students identify as first-generation. These students in particular are out to prove themselves, and they’re using our digital ecosystem to do it. In fact, we’ve identified them as one our “highly motivated” student populations. Simply put, they’re awesome.

Here’s how we know:

  • More than three out of four first-generation students on STEM Premier have a fully completed profile; a rate that out-strips continuing generation students by about nine percent.

  • They are reporting higher rates of AP test engagement and digital badge ownership.

  • The rate at which they apply for scholarships and other opportunities via STEM Premier closely matches their continuing-generation peers.

What are they passionate about?

  • 84% of them have their sights set on attending a four-year college. Talk about closing the gap!

  • 10% plan to pursue CTE (Career Technical Education). That’s essential education for some of America’s hardest-to-fill jobs.

  • 6% plan to serve our country in the military, where they will learn critical technical and leadership skills.

  • The most popular career interests for first-generation students include counselors, paralegals, librarians, and equipment technicians.

As we’ve discovered, the passion among these students has been blazing for years. They’ve simply needed an outlet to pursue that passion. We truly cannot express how honored we are to be that gateway to opportunity. But we’re not surprised. After all, STEM Premier is where all students get their opportunity to shine.

Three Reasons We're Excited About Our New Partnership With K12, Inc.

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In August, we officially announced a $9 million strategic investment from K12 Inc., a nation-wide leader in online curriculum and school programs for students in pre-K through high school. This investment signals an incredible expansion of our mission to connect talented students everywhere with the colleges, businesses, and organizations which are seeking them.

Needless to say, we’re excited about this opportunity. But we shouldn’t be the only ones. Any organization - academic or professional - which relies on recruiting to keep their talent pipeline flowing should share our enthusiasm. Here’s why.

We share a mission

Like us, K12 believes that every person - and student - is unique, and seeks to provide online educational solutions tailor-made for each student’s needs and goals. K12 offers comprehensive public and private school experiences as well as individualized and supplemental course options. Its award-winning curriculum is comprised of core subjects, including foreign languages, as well as AP, honors, STEM, and dual-credit offerings.

“Attracting the investment of a national leader in educational technology,” says our CEO Casey Welch, “will provide us the opportunity to accelerate both of our companies’ missions.”

We share a vision of the future of workforce development

As a result of this partnership, the STEM Premier platform will be incorporated into K12’s nationwide Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in order to more successfully match its participants with in-demand jobs across the country.

Known as Destinations Career Academies, these K12-managed programs allow their students to pursue practical career-readiness coursework alongside their core classes which will prepare them for professional success across a variety of industries such as health sciences, information technology, agriculture, architecture, and construction. Extracurricular activities like work-based experiences and competitions allow students to further enhance their professional and academic development. As a result, thousands of students are earning their diplomas already well-prepared for their next step, whether it be a job, the military, or further education.

“Our strategic investment in STEM Premier will develop a robust talent pipeline of skilled workers empowered to thrive in the 21st century business environment,” says K12 Chairman & CEO Nate Davis.

We share an ever-growing online environment of talent

What this means for organizational users of STEM Premier  is that they will immediately gain access to even greater numbers of diverse students across the nation. This will be especially beneficial for industries which face severe skills gaps.

“Incorporating STEM Premier into our Destinations portfolio,” says Davis, “will prove to be a powerful force in matching students with hard-to-fill job opportunities in fields like healthcare, IT, construction and manufacturing.”

Those familiar with the “network effect” which makes social media platforms like Facebook so dynamic will understand the impact this will have on STEM Premier’s online environment. As more users join, the more powerful of a tool it becomes for everyone involved.

This investment will allow our user base to grow exponentially, providing organizations with the ability to connect, engage, and recruit individuals who would otherwise have gone unnoticed. For our student users, their opportunities will be vastly expanded as we continue to lower the barriers which once forced them into traditional - and outdated - avenues of educational and professional growth. It doesn’t matter if they’re from South Carolina, South Dakota or South Chicago. Everyone will have their chance to shine on STEM Premier.

We’re pumped about this. We hope you are too.  

STEM Premier Powers SME's SOUTH-TEC Rising Stars Day

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We at STEM Premier always love a challenge. 

In October, we were asked by our friends at SME to help them identify and connect with the top STEM and CTE high school talent in the South and invite them to apply for an inaugural recognition event called Champions of Tomorrow: Rising Stars Day - a day recognizing outstanding STEM and CTE students from South Carolina and North Carolina.

The event would occur at SME's SOUTH-TEC - A multi-day event which attracts manufacturers, distributors and equipment builders from across the world, SOUTH-TEC is a hub of industry evolution and innovation. It also presented an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on these industries, and specifically on the young students of today who will be industry leaders tomorrow.

The annual event is hosted by SME in partnership with AMT, and supported by our friends at SC FutureMakers and SkillsUSA in Greenville, SC.

With over 300,000 of the best and brightest in the country on STEM Premier, SME knew the fastest way to find and engage students fitting to be Rising Stars was through our virtual platform.

The application process was hosted through STEM Premier, and was a huge success. Within a few days, SME received a large number of applications from many deserving students in North and South Carolina. On October 24, thirty-four high school juniors and seniors were honored in front of industry leaders and representatives. It was an exciting moment for both the students and professionals.

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The day included a panel discussion on workforce development featuring prominent leaders from both private and public sectors, including SkillsUSA Executive Director Timothy Lawrence, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, and BMW’s Community and Government Relations Manager Max Metcalf. Also providing remarks were SME CEO Jeffery Krause and STEM Premier Co-Founder Casey Welch.

STEM Premier even helped SME design a special digital badge recognizing the Rising Stars and proudly displays on their STEM Premier profiles alongside their other skills, talents, and achievements.

We were proud to play a role in such a prestigious event, and we wish the best of luck to each and every student recognized as a Rising Star.

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