Springfield, Pa. - Annually, over 10 million high school students begin the process of applying to college. Their expectation is that college will be the same as high school. They remember getting 15 minutes of homework and studying on the bus on their way to the first class of the day. Everything seemed so easy and studying sufficiently was not a big deal. Unfortunately many students arrive to college unaware that they may not have adequate preparation for the rigors of college. Something needs to be done to bridge the gap in college preparation.
It seems that school superintendents and college presidents rarely talk about college preparation best practices. Therefore the high school curriculum seems far apart from the college curriculum. The local high school is mostly concerned about meeting state standards that are established concerning each course. They are also entrapped by No Child Left Behind policies that threaten schools with Adequate Yearly Progress requirements. Teachers are spending more time preparing students for state tests rather than preparing them for college. High school administrators understand that a significant amount of funding could be affected by an inability to meet state and federal testing standards.
In spite of these challenges college presidents need to do a better job of meeting with high school principals to discuss the type of courses that prepare students for college. They can do this by also identifying high schools that frequently send them students who have graduated from their college. They can identify a high school college admission grade point average that stands out. It may also be a good idea for high school administrators to talk to their former students about their college experiences. They can provide their perspective on which classes actually prepared them for college life.
There is a benefit when entire colleges and school districts work together. The teachers who are completing degrees become more sensitive to the challenge of preparing high school students for college. The teachers who express an interest in teaching high school students can incorporate new knowledge into their courses. These teachers can also talk to high school students about their college experiences. They can give them some ideas regarding books that they can study while they are completing their high school requirements.
High school students don’t have to feel that preparing for college is only a dream. They don’t have to go to college and stumble through classes that are too difficult. They can receive insights in their classes about college life that make the college transition much easier. Some students might decide to take a college course while they are in high school so that they can get a first hand experience regarding the amount of studying that’s required.
Moving past the road blocks that prevent college presidents and superintendents from coming together will require a commitment. Both groups must spend time coming together and having discussions in the region where they can easily collaborate. Now is the time for college administrators and school superintendents to collaborate and to prepare students for postsecondary education of the future.