Essay on Population Description

  • Category: Society, Sociology,
  • Words: 2144 Pages: 8
  • Published: 22 August 2020
  • Copied: 196

The “Next Step” Program is here to help build a bridge from Highschool life to College life.  We know that this stage in life is full of stress and uncertainty.  Our program is focused on Teens from age 14-18. Rutherford County has a total population of 324,890 and children make up about 25 percent of that number.  With there being 81,223 children in Rutherford county we know that there will be a lot of children who go through this critical time (US Census Bureau).  Going through any situation where you don't know  exactly what is going to happen is scary, It helps when there is someone who has been there before to help them  take the “Next step”.  31.8% of Rutherford county residents have bachelor degrees  which is 5.7 percentage more than Tennessee's average, Which gives Rutherford County a unique statistic they have more College Graduates than they do children (US Census Bureau) . 

The influx of college graduates will be a huge resource for “Next step”  because we will need community support that has knowledge of the higher educational system. The top three stressors for teens according to a survey done by the Harris Interactive showed  is stress caused by school, stress caused by getting into college/ choosing a college and Financial concern for their families. One of the biggest stressors leading to moving pass high school is the financial stress that it puts on students and their families, The medium house income in Rutherford county is $62,149 which is also higher than the national average but even saying that the cost of MTSU a college  that is located in Rutherford county on their website says that one year on their campus cost $18,158 which is just a little under ⅓ of the median income for the household so we know that for most families can not pay for their children to go to college and Teenagers know the pressure this burden puts on their families (“Cost of Attendance: Average Fall/Spring Budget, n.d ) (US Census Bureau). It's understood that this is a stressful time in life and that everyone could use some education and skill building to make this transition easier.

Program Need Assessment

The first need for the population is to decrease social stress for teenagers. Social stress is defined as “a situation which threatens one’s relationships, self-esteem, or sense of belonging within a group.” Much of the social stress for teenagers falls into three categories: family and friend relationships, extracurricular activities, and peer pressure/fitting in. Fortunately, there is much information available about how to help teenagers deal with social stress.

“Teen Telling Tales” Article’s Perspective

According to the article, “Teens Telling Tales: How Maternal and Peer Audiences Support Narrative Identity Development”, families can be a source of help when dealing with social stress. Though teenagers don’t want to admit it, teenagers respect and appreciate boundaries and moral structure set-up by parents.

Parents that provide boundaries and establish clear expectations and model appropriate behaviors give teens the self-confidence and facts they need to make wise decisions. In addition, family rules, such as curfews, can provide teens with an easy way out when faced with socially stressful situations. This article also stressed the importance of teens surrounding themselves with friends that encourage them to be the best person they can be and to make good decisions. Friends are the most influential group on teens, so it is important for teens to have a few close friends that they can trust and depend on.

Extracurricular activities have been proven to cut social stress for teens by providing teens with ways to stay busy, diversifying their friend and acquaintance group, and developing leadership and time management skills. The article, The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities in High School: Involvement Enhances Academic Achievement and the Way Forward, confirms these benefits. They increase the self-confidence of teens, as well as improve their résumé for future college, trade school, or job resumes. By providing teens with positive activities to stay busy and diversifying their friend group, social stress is reduced. Extracurricular activities often provide an opportunity for teens to find success or at least become comfortable in a new situation which helps develop them physically, such as a sport, or mentally, such as an academic team or forensics

“Effect of Popularity and Peer Pressure on Attitudes toward Luxury among Teens” Article

An article, “Effect of Popularity and Peer Pressure on Attitudes toward Luxury among Teens,” states that in the development phase teens are in, one of the most important needs for teens is to feel accepted or to have a group they belong to. This need, which can be defined as social stress, can encourage teens to submit to negative peer pressure in order to fit in. Teaching teens to limit social media and to encourage self-value is key.

The second need for our population we are focusing on in financial stress as high school students are graduating, and making that transition into their first year of college. As young adults are making that change in their life a lot of financial burdens can come along with that transition that they are not adequately prepared for. Coming from a poverty family while in high school, loans, bills, and even concerns for their families back home. While experiencing this type of stress, things like anxiety, or not being able to handle a full class load can come along causing the student to not be able to focus on the educational standpoint.

The time frame for senior year does not last forever. Poverty affects adolescents' learning ability while in school. Community stressors that are financially related play a role in a students’ connection with school which includes, but is not limited to absences, grades, interactions within the classroom, and even interest in furthering their degree to a college level (Mirra and Rogers, 2015). Financial issues can impact access to food, or even lack of medical care. Teachers reported that far more students were impacted by these factors in high poverty schools when compared with low poverty schools (Mirra and Rogers, 2015).

Financial stress can affect a student's mental and physical health in a negative way. As seniors, college discussions are coming into play. If a student is having to worry about financial situations occurring in the home, it may be hard for them to even consider a college to attend. Not only that, but being around all of their peers hearing the conversations can put a toll on a student experiencing financial issues.

When a student is stuck working lots of hours, and not being able to put a big emphasis on school work, this can then lead to increased anxiety levels (Jones, Park, Lefavor, 2018). The previous examples of inadequate housing, lack of proper nutrition, and medical care will also lead into additional stress issues.Health and well being are two very important things for a student. While one is experiencing such levels of stress, their health can start to decline. Research brings about apprehension regarding multiple areas of study from physical, psychological, and financial health. All of these combined are a risk for overall student well-being decline (Robb, 2017.)

Statista Viewpoint

According to Statista, students’ financial stress concerns for their family were included in the top three sources of stress among U.S. teenagers in 2013. As we have come together and discussed, we want to bring students’ together to help them ease some of the financial stress off of them. We will do so by giving pointers on how to better manage financial topics, and the stress that comes along with them.

The last need is to relieve stress on what to do after High School . Do they go to college,  get a job, take a gap year? Every year students are faced with these tough decisions with little to no guidance. Students are put under stress to do well in school, pass their tests with amazing grades, all while being expected to keep up a social life outside of school. 

When United States teens were asked in 2013 what their biggest stressors are, school (83%) and getting into a good college/deciding what to do after high school (69%) were the top two answers as well as financial concerns for their family (65%) (Horatio Alger Association, 2012). Teens are having to worry more and more lately about what to do and how to do it rather than enjoying their high school years. “Most of the time a single intelligence test is conducted to assess an applicant for college. Along with the results of the tests, recommendation letters and interview outcomes were the other bases on considering college applicants” (Diokno, 2015, p. 26). 

So what happens when a student is not a great test taker, or did not have a great connection with any teachers to get an amazing recommendation? These two factors can ultimately change their future. These stressors often cause feelings of irritability or anger, fatigue and even as far as causing teens to skip meals from day to day (Harris Interactive, 2013). These unhealthy habits are caused by the stress of high school and trying to decide what to do after. The United States puts such a heavy amount of  stress on college, getting a job and finding your footing after high school that many students break under the pressures. 

Not to mention that in 2019 the average cost of college tuition was $20,770 for in-state schools, $40,940 for out-of-state and nearly $50,000 for nonprofit, private schools (Dooley, Payne, Robb, 2012, p. 762).  These high costs are just another add on to the stressors of being an American teen. How can we expect teens to come up with a financial plan for payment? 

It is shown that physical activity can help teens deal with stress or get it off their mind for a bit (Barney, Pleban, Lewis, 2019, p.787). Through implementing ways to deal with stress like exercise, organization, and many other things, we can help teens feel more prepared for what their future holds. 

Program Justification

There are many programs that help our demographic however the way that each of the programs run and what and how they aim to achieve their goals are different. The Dell Scholar program is  on of these programs is  program is based on the premise that  “that completing rigorous academic curricula in high school and providing students with opportunities to learn about colleges, financial aid, and campus life helps students overcome socioeconomic disadvantages”  (Dell Scholars, 2019) 

Next Step and Dell Scholars have a lot in common we both that students should  have the opportunity to learn about colleges and financial aid but where the Dell Scholars and “Next Step” Differ is the aspect of stress they believe in a rigorous academic curriculum In High Schools and Next Step is more focused on the stress that  a rigorous academic curriculum has on the student. The main difference is that the Dell Scholars program talks about overcoming socioeconomic disadvantages and Next Step is more focused on helping anyone no matter their socioeconomic status (Dell Scholars, 2019).

Some programs such as the College Planning Cohorts focuses on college prep but is more focused on “underrepresented groups and marginalized communities” so they are more specific  than Next Step on who they want to help but they do share the goal of financial literacy when it comes to student loans on their websites they mention that only 1.5 percent of first-time college students receive a full scholarship to college so they do education on financial aid and that is one of the biggest things that Next Step will  deal with (College Planning Cohorts, 2019).

There is a local non profit called “The Build Up Foundation” and they are the closest to the Next Step program they provide free ACT prep classes which in one year they helped 500 kids in east Nashville improve their ACT score (The Build Up Foundation, 2019). The biggest correlation is their mentor program which Next Step really thinks is the backbone to being successful going forward with life after High School. 

The big difference between the programs is that “The Build Up Foundation” does a lot of extra stuff for the community including special events for Christmas such as giving children free haircuts so they could look nice for the holidays, They also did a toy drive.  Once again their foundation is much more broad but the two programs serve the same age group of children and get their participants a leg up in a competitive time in their lives.

How States Acted

Some states have also started mandatory college prep programs on the more notables is the program that is run by the state of Michigan  they have found that it has improved ACT scores but it they have not been able to see a significant difference in graduation rates(Jacob, Dynarski, Frank, & Schneider, 2016). 

This program differs from “Next Step” because it is state run which is good for them because funding is more secure but it is more difficult because they have to cast such a large net, “Next Step” gets the benefit of the population being smaller which means we can be more targeted in our approach.

Lastly there was a national program called “ Gear Up” was a national college prep program but did not have the infrastructure to keep up with grant money and have received great struteney of that (Morgan, R., 2002)). They run a similar program as “Next Step”. But their mistake is a learning point for “Next Step” and shows how important rules and guidelines are to a successful College prep program really is.

There are a lot of programs that do College Prep and the goal is to combine the best part of successful programs in the country and to make sure that their mistakes and misfortunes are not repeated.



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