The University of Minnesota is announcing a statewide program Monday to get more students focused on obtaining a college education.
The new program, called "Ramp Up," will give students college guidance and orientation courses.
Program director Kent Pekel said it's an attempt to rectify the quality and consistency of college counseling.
The university's program will target sixth through 12th grade students in about three dozen urban and rural schools.
Students will learn about things such as two- and four-year colleges, how to compare them and how to apply.
"With "Ramp Up," we're trying to make sure that students understand very early why they need to go to college, and by the end of high school, they're really ready to be good consumers of post-secondary education," Pekel said.
Pekel said many state and national programs prepare students academically for college. But few, if any, are designed to get students focused on it.
"Most kids start thinking about this in 11th grade. That's way too late to actually begin taking the classes and having the experiences that you need to be college-ready by the end of high school," he said.
Minnesota's schools have the second-worst student-to-counselor ratio in the nation. That has limited the time available for college counseling in many schools.