High school was too easy, graduates say

College is great, say recent high school graduates, but they weren’t prepared for college-level math, science and writing.

College Board’s One Year Out (pdf) survey asked members of the class of 2010 how their high school experience prepared them for work and college. In addition to wishing they’d taken harder classes in high school, 47 percent said they should have worked harder, reports College Bound.  Thirty-seven  percent said high school graduation requirements were too easy.

Ninety percent agreed with the statement: “In today’s world, high school is not enough, and nearly everybody needs to complete some kind of education or training after high school.”

Those who went on to college found the courses were more difficult than expected (54 percent), and 24 percent were required to take noncredit remedial or developmental courses. Of those taking remedial programs, 37 percent attended a two-year college and 16 percent did not make it through the first year of college.

To succeed, 44 percent of graduates said they wished they had taken different classes in high school. Among those, 40 percent wished they had taken more math, 37 percent wished they would have taken more classes that prepared them for a specific job, and 33 percent wished they had taken more science courses. Others thought they would have benefited from more practical career readiness and basic preparation for how to engage in a college environment, including how to manage personal finances, the College Board survey reveals.

Curriculum Matters has more on the study.

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  1. “Ninety percent agreed with the statement: ‘In today’s world, high school is not enough, and nearly everybody needs to complete some kind of education or training after high school.'”

    I doubt that more than a few of them have any experience that justifies that belief.

  2. Great – evidence they are growing up! I wish they had been asked how many times adults – parents, teachers, others – told them to take more challenging classes in HS, don’t take the minimum graduation requirements (sometimes one or two classes) your senior year and know you will have to study more. There are few times when young people feel that they know it all, and senior year in high school, especially after they’ve gotten accepted to a college, is one of those times.

  3. The k-12 schools have been allowing kids to coast through with little work, little learning and good grades. Very few kids/parents, mostly concentrated in very competitive schools in affluent areas, will go the extra miles necessary for serious academics – and that’s assuming their schools offer such.

    The public school my older kids attended still requires good grades in the honors prerequisite for each AP class; honors world for AP Euro, honors physics and concurrent AP calc BC for AP physics etc. The honors classes are demanding HS material and the APs are true college-level classes (even for elite schools); too many schools don’t offer honors classes and even the APs have many seriously-unprepared kids. Starting in kindergarten, schools need to demand mastery of knowledge and skills before getting either good grades or promotion to the next grade. The slacker mentality is established long before HS, so it’s no surprise that college comes as a rude shock – and both entry standards and coursework has been dumbed down there, as well.

  4. I teach at one of those upscale schools that momof4 describes. I’ve had plenty of former students who tell me college is nothing compared to what they did at our school. Then again, taking 4 AP courses at once might do that to you!

  5. High school was definitely too easy compared with the challenge level at the college I attended. I really wish that we had lived in a place with an exam school or that my parents had been able to afford prep school for me. My college friends who were graduates of these kinds of selective high schools were much better prepared for the rigors of college.

    I took the highest level track offered at my high school and did 4 years of math (including calculus), English, science (including the one AP course my school offered, biology), history, French, and Latin. They just didn’t have a large enough concentration of really bright kids to offer the kind of super-rigorous courses found at that the top prep and exam schools.

  6. The parents of these high school graduates got exactly what they demanded out of their K-12 schools – all those complaints of “If my child is failing a class, it can’t be his / her own fault” have finally paid off – and now they’re complaining again because what they were told that made them upset before has finally been proved right? With this kind of double sidedness…