By concentrating so heavily on graduation rates, school administrators are failing to acknowledge the danger signs that the amount of student preparedness for college may be declining.
Too many students are graduating high school without a real, clear path to success in college. Multiple students feel that they are being forced to complete a mandated number of hours from a handful of seemingly random classes that will not benefit them in any way.
Senior Leana Go said, “Many students like myself are taking so many random classes that does not prepare us for life after graduation. I feel like I’m wasting my time when I can do better things like internships, but I can’t because of all the extra baggage.”
Aside from a few rigorous classes, many students attempt to take easy classes to maintain their GPAs, and are not pushing to challenge themselves; as many students care more about graduating than being educated. If students feel that they’re challenged in a classroom environment, they are more likely to perform better in college.
High school does not really prepare you for college; they prepare you for getting into college, or at least they try to. Students are told that high school prepares them for the type of studying they will have to do in college, but in reality, most high school classes don’t even come close. Most of the four years are spent either taking pointless classes, such as anatomy or neuroscience, or preparing for a bundle of government-mandated tests.
“We are seniors… I just don’t see the point of us taking classes that will not help us in the long run. Teachers expect us to just know certain things when there are not even taught,” said Senior Manvy Rai.
For instance, consider the way English is taught in high school. New York State has always been at the forefront for establishing high standards for their high school students. The Common Core Standards is known to ensure that students become clinical crafters of arguments and masters of academic language. While these are essential skills to possess, there are other students who do not have much experience with the English language, especially if they come from another country or speak their native language at home, who are pushed to gain all this knowledge within a short amount of time.
English teachers are also not allowed to teach grammar because it is expected that students learn these essential skills in elementary school. However, students have always been pressured to pass the NYS exams in grade school, and have had less preparation time when it comes to the rules of grammar and writing, and more preparation time to pass these exams, making it ten times harder for them to excel in both high school and for their futures in college.
Ms. Smith, an English teacher, told us how she feels on the subject, “A lot of students are not really prepared because they speak other languages. Some of it is because elementary schools are focusing so much on preparing kids for tests that the basic writing tools are not there.”
She also told a story about the visit of two students that she previously had that currently go to top colleges, Princeton University and Vanderbilt University, who have suffered the wrath of not being as prepared as they should’ve been.
Smith said, “They both were laughing and saying that their writing teachers are really really tough. The young lady from Princeton said that she gets like two pages of everything she did wrong in her essay back.”
As a solution to effectively prepare students on their journey to college, Ms. Smith believes that it would be better if we go deeper into texts and read fewer things. She also offers the idea that some of the people in Albany who set some of these standards should actually come and teach classes, instead of only dictating what should be done. They need to see what the reality of the situation is, and should allow teachers to teach their own curriculum to effectively help their students to the best of their abilities.
Teachers like Adam Heavey have developed new ways to prepare their students for college. As a social studies teacher, he tries to incorporate research papers, teaching his students how to use parenthetical citations, and practice public speaking in debates and simulations.
“College is much more independent. It’s really sink or swim. Professors are not going to sit down with you and hold your hand…the training wheels come off,” said Mr. Heavey.
With that being said, the issue of teachers being way too “easy” on their students are raising concern on student preparedness for college.
Ms. Ciccotelli, an English teacher, firmly believes that “teachers in high school tend to sometimes coddle students more than we possibly should and maybe we think that we’re doing the right thing but maybe we’re making the transition to college more difficult.”
Overall, school administrators try their best to effectively prepare students for college, even if it seems to prepare us more for test prep rather than critical thinking.
High school should be a place for expanding the minds and capabilities of students, as well as preparing them for college and the real world being such an integral part of that. Students should be challenged, which means exposing them to the level of rigor that college will demand. The world is a scary place, so students need to be fully equipped with the skills to face it head on, especially as their four years come to a close.