Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How teachers and schools can prepare students for college

Not all students will go to college. Not all students must go to college. College is an option like anything else. The problem is, schools and teachers seem bent on preparing all students for college, but most of these ideas are off base. Here are some real world tips for preparing students for college.

The work is not necessarily harder in college. We do students a disservice when saying it is. Kind of scares them into a false reality. Some classes and subjects may be easier in college than high school. Many general requirement classes will be filled with hundreds of students doing mostly busy work. Not exactly hard. Time consuming, but not hard. In fact, the biggest thing teachers and schools can do to prepare students for college, is for them to actually know what the present college experience is like.

College students must meet deadlines. Do you have deadlines? Or are you lenient? This is a good rule for all students, not just college bound. The real world has real, hard hitting deadlines. If you miss them, you suffer. Don't pay your taxes on time and see what happens. Show up to work late. You suffer. College students may actually fail classes by not meeting deadlines. Certainly they must register and have all forms in by certain dates. Give your students consequences for turning in late work. College professors consider college students adult enough and are not very lenient.

Technology only goes so far. High school students grow up today using spell checkers, texting, and calculators. While that's fine, colleges are still pretty old fashioned. Introductory college writing will require proper sentence structure and grammar. And spell checkers don't do much for wrong words spelled right. Calculators? They probably will not help you in many math classes. These skills are good for the real world as well. People who can function in all circumstances will thrive. Don't be lenient on worked turned in that is garbage and is done in a lazy way.

Note taking may have become a lost art. But college, as stated above, is still old fashioned. You must be able to take good notes and be able to study with them later. If your students are not taking notes, they may falter. Taking notes also helps students pay attention to what is being taught. A good skill for the job market as well.

Schools should demand that teachers and students meet standards. Many four year colleges have canceled their remedial classes because there are just too many students needing them. They can't cope. Many students find they can't pass entrance exams and must take a class at a junior college. In California, for example, the high school exit exam tests to just about the 10th grade. Do you think 10th grade level is good to start college? It's not. 10th grade level should not even be accepted in the job market.

Advanced Placement and Honors classes have their place, but they give a false sense of "college readiness" or "intelligence." AP classes are taught to pass the AP exam. Why? Because if one does not pass the exam, taking the class is now a moot point. Too many schools are stuffing their campus with these classes. They don't do much good. They prepare to pass a high school class, but not get you college ready. Parents should have their students get straight A's in a regular college-bound curriculum, and not be snookered into Honors classes.

Teachers, incorporate more logic and critical thinking into your classes. That's what college campuses are craving right now. Critical thinking students. Do you make your students think on a daily basis? Or they just doing mindless tasks?

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