College readiness isn’t just academic

Even if they’re prepared academically for college, many students don’t understand college expectations, behaviors and attitudes, researchers say. What does it mean to “study hard” or “come prepared” to class? Students are used to high school teachers who tell students exactly what to do — and let them slide if they don’t do it.

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  1. OK, I won’t blame the college instructors, but I WILL blame the k-12 school teachers and admins, who should have ensured that kids know how to take notes, outline, summarize and identify important points in their readings. They should have assigned out-of-class reading and should have made sure that kids not doing assigned work, completely and on time, were penalized on their grades, failing those students who deserve it. I will blame high schools for not explaining what colleges expect of students (my school and that of three of my kids, did a good job of it). I will blame schools for placing kids in classes where they are unable to learn the material (ability, preparation and/or motivation). I will blame high schools where teachers go over the whole test the day prior to giving it , as was done at my niece’s and nephew’s school and at those of their college classmates, so kids could get good grades if they paid attention on one day per quarter. I will blame schools for allowing endless re-dos, extra credit and extra time. Politicians and admins have demanded equal outcomes, regardless of ability, preparation or motivation, and this is the result.

    • I should clarify that I don’t blame most teachers; the pressure is coming from above. I have a close relative who took early retirement because of the state-mandated 100% full inclusion, state-mandated removal of all honors and gifted classes, political/admin pressure for fewer and less-demanding assignments and for no grades less than B and no failures (however richly deserved lower grades or failures might be). He had taught at the same HS for at least 35 years, and the expectations of students had been going downhill for a decade and he was tired of fighting to maintain standards; a bunch of his contemporaries retired about the same time and for the same reasons.

  2. The thing that’s making me crazy right now? College level students who can’t or won’t follow directions: You give them a lab exercise written out step by numbered step and there will be a certain percentage who skip steps and mess it up, or who do the steps out of order, or who follow the professor or TA around complaining about how they don’t know what to do “next.”

    I learned how to cook (and bake) at an early age; there’s value in that kind of stuff, I think, because it teaches people to follow directions or risk a bad outcome. (And it also teaches that once you learn “the rules,” and get familiar with them, you can develop the confidence to bend the rules when necessary. But too many students want to bend all the rules before they learn to discern which ones are vital and which ones are not)

    • I agree with you about cooking, which I began well before I started first grade. I also learned weights, measurements, equivalents (cups, ounces, tablespoons etc.) and fractions years before they were taught in school; halve this recipe, triple that one etc.

      It is the same with sports and the arts; once you REALLY know the fundamentals, you can get creative. In the k-12 academic world, the first step of absolute mastery of the fundamentals, is ignored.

  3. Yes, decades ago, it was the excepted norm that parents would teach certain fundamentals in the home. Probably a third of my first-grade class showed up knowing how to read a little bit and write their name.

    Somewhere in the glories of the boomers, that norm fell by the wayside.

    • Don’t rush to conclusions based on only your own experience.

      Lots of 1st graders today can “read a little bit and write their name.”