Students need help from their families, schools, and their communities to prepare for college and develop careers. Sadly, this collaborative effort is often lacking. It is a distressing fact of our modern life in the United States that despite the political rhetoric about educational reform, a large percentage of students are simply not ready to succeed beyond high school.
According to reports by the NAEP and EPE, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and Educational Projects in Education, students in the United States are not acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to do well this emerging century. For example, only one out of three eighth graders can read well and only one-third are good at math. By the twelfth grade, the statistics get worse, with only one out of four students showing proficiency in writing. Overall, about a million students in the United States every year don’t even complete high school.
What Can Be Done?
If our country is to have an educated doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professional people ready to thrive in a rapidly advancing world, then students need to focus on developing knowledge and skills in foundational subjects like reading, writing, and math. When these skills are lacking, parents, teachers, and local communities need to offer support to provide remedial education. While an early start is always a good idea, it is never too late to put in the necessary effort to get up to par.
Besides mastering core academic skills, another essential skill is what educational psychologists call “executive functioning” skills. This simply means developing the mental, emotional, and social skills to achieve goals. Stacey Spencer, a Pediatric Neuropsychologist at The Morris Psychological Group, believes that “When executive functioning is off, a child’s ability to go to school, to learn and function in the classroom environment, is seriously compromised.”
Fortunately, newly advanced and intuitive student applications can make it simple for students, as well as their parents and teachers, to collaborate on improving executive functions like figuring out class schedules or doing homework on time. In fact, the company Meridian Planners now offers an online student planner app that was specifically created and built for the BYOD technological environment of today’s more advanced classrooms.
Preparation for College begins in the Third Grade
Research conducted by national studies has shown that students who attain proficiency in reading in the third grade are much more likely to graduate from high school. Preparing students for the rigors of college and professional careers like attending law school begins to gather momentum in the middle school and the high school years.
High school teachers can help prepare student for college by offering college-level classes and taking them on tours to college campuses. These initiatives viscerally drive home the importance of engaging in education. Although there is much work to be done to prepare students to head in the right direction in life, with the best intentions and sincere efforts, it is entirely possible.
What Makes Students Ready For College?
An article by David T. Conley, entitled “What Makes a Student College Ready?” outlined four key areas that show college readiness.
The first key is cognitive strategies. Students should be able to reflect about what they are learning rather than simply accepting the information without questioning it.
The second key is content knowledge. Students should be able to make connections between the big ideas when they are learning by understanding the underlying structure of their reading material.
The third key is self-management skills. Students should be able to keep track of schedules, arrange priorities, and meet deadlines without supervision.
The fourth key is specialized knowledge about college itself. Students should be able to understand why they are going to college and choose majors that match up with their interests. For this skill, they need to understand how college is different from high school and what they are expected to do once they get into college.