It’s time to tell students the truth, writes James E. Rosenbaum, a Northwestern professor, in American Educator: If you do poorly in high school, you’ll do poorly in college and on the job. A very useful sidebar explains what you need to do in high school if you want to graduate from college.
The vast majority of high school seniors say they plan to get a college degree. Yet less than 40 percent will earn a two- or four-year degree in 10 years. Success is linked closely to high school performance: While 64 percent of A students with college plans earn a two-year or higher degree; only 14 percent of college-bound seniors with averages of C or lower earn any sort of degree within 10 years. Half of the C and D students will not earn a single college credit. They’ll take remedial classes and then give up.
Because it’s so easy to get into community college — it requires a pulse but little else — “researchers found that almost 40 percent of college-bound students believed that school effort had little relevance for their future careers.” Wrong.
Homework might seem like a waste of time, but it teaches you content, time-management, and discipline — all of which you’ll need in college. Forty-four percent of high school seniors do less than three hours of homework in a week; only 14 percent of seniors do more than 10 hours. But homework time strongly predicts college success: Over half the students who do more than 10 hours of homework a week will get a four-year college degree; only about 16 percent of those doing less than three hours of homework a week will earn a bachelor’s degree.
Taking higher-level math is a predictor of college success too: 80 percent of calculus students earn a degree compared to 8 percent of students whose highest math class is Algebra 1.
Of course, mediocre high school students often end up in remedial classes which earn no college credit. A majority of two-year college students and about a quarter of four-year college students must take at least one remedial class. But “in an effort to reduce students’ feelings of inferiority, college advisors often downplay the fact that courses are remedial.” So many students don’t realize that they aren’t earning any credits toward graduation.
There are good jobs for students with strong high school skills. “Unfortunately, over 40 percent of high-school seniors lack ninth-grade math skills and 60 percent lack ninth-grade reading skills,” Rosenbaum writes. For students who go directly into the workforce, high school grades are linked to pay. B students earn considerably more than C students.
This is important for everyone to understand. Thanks to Gadfly for the link.