Missing the Mark on College Readiness: Bridging the Gap Between Middle, Secondary and Post Secondary Schools

What Are We Really Teaching Our Students ?

College readiness and college prep is starting earlier and earlier but it’s not intentional as far as lesson planning and structure goals it’s about testing and teaching to test. The regents, SAT, and ACT in my opinion does not test a student’s intelligence but rather how well they can do under pressure. If we really want to test a students knowledge retainment and understanding of a topic, projects, and presentation where they show their “digestion” of the topic would suffice.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

But an even bigger issue is that the vital skills like communication, financial literacy and social skills are not being taught

The basic subjects like Math, ELA, Social Studies, Science and even Physical Education can be used to teach these life skills:

Photo Credit: Google Images

Photo Credit: Google Images

  • Math-checks and balances, finance, stocks and statistics

  • Science- anatomy knowing their body, diseases, and chemicals

  • English-resume, letters, emails, building vocabulary

  • Social Studies- connect to current events to feel the past is relevant and politics

  • Health/Physical Education-sexual health, menstrual cycle, mediation, yoga, time management, emotional intelligence and mental health

And add a communication class where they learn how to introduce themselves, projection, group communication and expression.

How do we help our middle school and high school students with personal and professional development ?

Teaching them to explore and understand their personality to maximize workspaces and methods enhance their natural born abilites. I believe middle and high school they should be building portfolios on themselves, like what type of learner they are, aspirations, family structure and how their environment impacts their learning, as part of this “permanent record’ that they have . Like actually utilizing all of the data collected when a student enrolls in a school. This would give insight to their development over the years and their strengths, and areas of development to help prepare them for college.

But first what does it mean to be college ready ?

College readiness according to College Raptor;

refers to the set of skills, knowledge, and behaviors a high school student should have upon graduation and entering their freshmen year of college. It's all about the ability to find success while studying at an institute of higher learning.

If it encompasses all of this, why are we only focusing on the knowledge on a surface level and disregarding the development of behaviors and skills ?

What is the purpose of college ?

If you watch those commercials about students in debt, the consensus is that college is a gateway to getting a “better higher paying job” to live a better life.

Students in my past role as a 12th grade student advocate, said they are not “sold” on the idea of college because

  • they are fearful of the debt

  • they are fearful that what they love to do will not make enough money

  • their parents want to choose where they go and what they study, thus not making it the student’s experience

This impacts the mindset they have for application and matriculation to colleges.

In my opinion, and based on my experience, the purpose of college is socialization, knowledge and skill attainment as preparation for ones desired career field.

Students are coddled from K-12 and then matriculate into post-secondary instituions with an immense amount of freedom and little to no guidance where they are expected to succeed with a weak foundation built in secondary school and tools that cannot be used. A lot of students lose their way, struggle and fall off the radar since they’re viewed as independent they’re not checked on. Some students fail, drop out or spend more time on their bachelors than necessary.

They don’t know how to ask for help or ask these questions because they’re expected to know things they weren’t taught and they’re shamed for asking questions. They are unable or unwilling to their peers authority’s or be emotionally intelligent to admit feeling overwhelmed, scared or anxious.

I’m seeing gaps in secondary school and I’m seeing gaps at each level which are precurors to their experience in college.

I believe my purpose is to use my acquired knowledge and experience with students of different grade levels to bridge those gaps; there is first year orientation to help with the transition from high school to college but there should be that same level of support each year.

There should be a checklist for each year to guide the students with purpose. LIU Brooklyn has a program called LIU Promise that if ran successfully and thoroughly, I believe many institutions can benefit from it. where there are milestones that ‘coaches’ go through with their assigned student to ensure success after graduation.

  • First Year focuses on personal development, exposing students to clubs/organizations and developing resumes and plans. Essentially introducing them to the right influences and laying the foundation for development.

  • Second Year focuses the students on really becoming engaged on campus by seeking leadership roles and community service opportunities in addition to research opportunities.

  • Third Year is for exploration of the connection of the past two years to the outside world through study abroad initiatives, internships and peers mentoring.

  • Fourth Year is a summation of closing the loops on research, presentations, resumes and conferences as well as looking into career opportunies and graduate school.

Each campus has academic advisors and students connect with mentors in their department or professors else where but since the ratio of faculty/staff to students is low, I find that students fall thorugh the cracks and end up on campus, lost and feeling purposeless. If they have a road map for action that would help make the best of their four years, I have also noticed that after graduating a lot of students take a while to transition into their field of interest due to not having built that network of connections or simply not having the experience in the field that they could have gathered through internships. Those attributes would make them a more attractive candiate to jumpstart their career.

Photo credit: Google Images

Photo credit: Google Images

I am also proposing deliberate and calculated communication between advisors and students. Not simply appointments to get their pin to register for classes, finding ways to support the student academically and connecting them to the different departments and offices to help in areas they may not be certified. The more purposeful we are in what we teach students and assess their knowledge the better off the world would be because students are the future, and right now we’re in a lot of debt with little progression.

Yasmine PaytonComment