Message to Nebraska 8th Graders: 'Take rigorous courses'
Two of Nebraska’s top education leaders have sent letters and information packets to all 26,000 eighth-grade students in 585 public and parochial schools. University of Nebraska President L. Dennis Smith and Commissioner of Education Doug Christensen intend the mailing to deliver a message to students as they prepare to register for high school: 'taking rigorous high school courses in science, math, social studies and foreign language will give you a solid educational foundation.'

The information packet –in English and Spanish– describes the University of Nebraska’s requirements for admission, which include four years of high school English, three years each of math, social studies and science, and two years of a foreign language. It notes that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln requires a fourth year of math. The packets also provide information on college entrance exams. NU requires that students be in the top half of their high school class and have a score of at least 950 on the SAT or 20 on the ACT for admission.

Smith and Christensen also advise students to attend career days and college fairs, visit college campuses, and talk to their counselors about available financial aid and scholarships. 'We hope you will decide to go to college, and we want you to know you can –if you do good work in high school,' their letter explains, adding that 'the best single predictor of success in getting into college is the number of challenging college-prep courses you take, and the best predictor of success in college is your high school grade-point average.'

The two educators also have a request of parents: 'We hope you will encourage your son or daughter to pursue challenging courses in high school. Choices made in high school can open a wide range of opportunities or impose severe limits.'

Information packets also are being distributed to a variety of community centers across the state and may be ordered on the University of Nebraska website, www.nebraska.edu under 'Prospective Students.'
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