Cold Springs Shops summarizes a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel series that’s following three students through their first year at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. By mid-year, the would-be architect, who attended an elite high school, is doing well. The marginal student is surviving, thanks to hard work. The apathetic nursing student, a black girl who lives at home and hangs out with non-student friends, has done poorly and transferred to a technical college.
The paper’s conclusions: a stronger high school matters, passion for the work matters, compatible friends matter, and the record of student support services is mixed. Universities might not be able to control the high schools their applicants attend, but they can send the message to high schools that the days of high school-in-college, otherwise known as “remediation,” are over. They may not be able to control the commitment students have for their work, but essays and test scores might tell admissions offices something about that motivation. The screen for motivated students might have the effect of screening out the party set, making it more likely that freshmen will encounter relatively more motivated classmates.
It was a little scary to read about the marginal student’s struggles to learn to write an essay and do middle-school math. She finds “tackling decimals and fractions without a calculator is torture,” but ends up with a B. Her goal: To be a teacher.
The College Puzzle explains what successful students do to ensure they earn that college degree.