Welcome back to the Beyond High School newsletter. I needed to take a break from the newsletter in November to get a big project finished. I’m proud to be able to share the stories with you this month.

As I mentioned, we are taking a deep dive into the higher education outcomes that have helped lead to two very different Colorados — one where some are able to access opportunities while others are at risk of getting left behind.

Our first stories focus on the challenges Hispanic men face getting to and graduating from college.

One challenge we didn’t go deeply into is college preparedness. The most recent Colorado report from 2019 showed about 35% of the state’s high school graduates enrolling in college needed extra classes to catch up to the prerequisites.

The numbers were even higher among Black and Hispanic students, with more than half needing remedial classes. Colorado has since passed a law to end remedial college classes, a practice where students often won’t get credit for their work. That meant they ended up paying more in college tuition for non-college classes. The Colorado law goes into effect next year.

But college can be a shock — and finding out the high school education you received isn’t up to par can be jarring with or without remedial classes. Trying to catch up can slow a student’s education or even cause them to drop out.

During my reporting, I talked with Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Commerce City Democrat, about his experience at Georgetown University.

Moreno was an Adams 14 graduate and valedictorian. He was motivated and his parents supported his college dreams. When he arrived at Georgetown, he ended up having to take remedial classes.

“It was a big wake-up call realizing that you’ve done everything that was asked of you in high school and you’re still having to take remedial classes,” he said.

Like many of the success stories we shared, Moreno was able to get through college because he connected with a center that offered help with classes, provided mentorship, and steered him toward graduation.

But the knowledge that your high school education isn’t up to snuff can also keep students from applying to college. Moreno said he knew plenty of friends who didn’t go because they didn’t think they were college material.

“They were either written off or they had other responsibilities that were placed on them,” Moreno said.

Unlike the other issues we highlighted in our stories, we didn’t focus on solutions to preparing students academically for college. But it’s an area we want to explore. To get us started, we want to hear from you.

How do high schools ensure all students get the education they need to be successful? How do colleges help those students who are behind, especially when a large group arrives without the necessary tools? How can we as a state do better? And is the end of remedial education enough?

Please get in touch. Reach me on Twitter at @ByJasonGonzales or via email at jgonzales@chalkbeat.org.

And please take a few minutes to fill out this brief survey about what topics we should be covering.

+ Two Hispanic brothers wanted to go to college in Colorado. Here’s why only one made it.
++ Colorado graduates Hispanic men at low rates — but it can improve

This item appeared in Beyond High School, a Chalkbeat newsletter by Jason Gonzales about college-going in Colorado. Sign up for your own copy here.

Higher education reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado in partnership with Open Campus.