Reports: Over Half of High Schoolers Not Academically Ready for College

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cliff

Work on building your own bridge from high school to college

More news that points to the need for better college prep . . .

Recently, College Board (creators of the SAT) published a piece reporting that just 43% of SAT-takers in the class of ’12 possess “the level of academic preparedness associated with a high likelihood of college success.” (Read the article here.)

ACT, purveyors of the other major college entrance exam in the U.S., released similar findings in their August report The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012 (read the story in Education Week, “ACT Finds Most Students Still Not Ready for College,” here).

Something that struck me in both stories is that the number of students taking these tests is at an all-time high; many in that number would be first-generation college students or do not speak English as their first language. Also, the ACT is mandatory in some states for all high school juniors (raising the question, as Professor Michael Kirst in the Education Week article notes, of how much those students applied themselves to the test). Sobering as the headlines may sound, such information about the test-taking pool is important to keep in mind.

Plus, there is good news for the studious: both organizations note students who take a more challenging curriculum in high school do perform better on the tests (and, I’ll wager, they perform better in the college classroom).

Even so, add these reports to the stack of evidence bolstering what we in higher ed see every day: students entering college, all too frequently, simply are not prepared to make the grade.

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Counselors Say Their Schools Fall Short in Academic Planning, College Prep

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CompassThe College Board Advocacy and Policy Center has released survey results of over 5,300 American middle and high school counselors. The survey asked questions about these education professionals’ roles and the missions of their schools.

Notable findings:

*85% of counselors say a “top mission of schools” should be to ensure students graduate high school career- or college-ready, but only 30% say that’s the mission of their schools.

*71% of counselors say helping students’ planning, in a rigorous academic program, for career and college readiness is important; only 34% report their own school is successful at this kind of assistance.

While the study goes on to discuss reforms to address these problems, college-bound students might hear this as another voice suggesting they will do well to engage in studying above and beyond the classroom: that is, to engage in DIY college prep as much as possible.

Source:
“College Board Advocacy and Policy Center’s 1st Annual Survey of School Counselors Offers Critical Insights from Key Education Professionals,” College Board press release, 11/15/11.

Read more here:
“Missing Elements,”
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 11/15/11.

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How To Create a Summer Reading List with Teeth

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Reading statue

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You’ve realized since second grade that “reading is fundamental.” You realize reading anything is arguably better than reading nothing.  But you don’t wish to read just anything.  You’re preparing for college, and you need to read (at least some of the time) books that will build your mind muscles. 

In an age of Tweeting, what’s a reader to do?

Create a good summer reading list, of course!  (And then read the books.)

Below are two websites with excellent suggestions:

1)       “101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers” from College Board (they publish the SAT test): http://www.collegeboard.com/student/plan/boost-your-skills/23628.html
UPDATE 6/5/14: the link above no longer works.  See this page from Goodreads.com.

2)      “The Big Read” books (literary fiction recommendations from the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Big Read” program):
http://www.neabigread.org/books.php

…And a final tip:

3)      Visit your local library and talk to a librarian.  (Librarians also are available electronically nowadays, but human interaction is sometimes nice.)  Tell him or her that you’re seeking out classics and/or challenging books.  Explain that you’re preparing for college.  I guarantee you will get a delighted librarian and some great suggestions.

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