Many people can look back at their education and find at least one teacher, counselor or coach that motivated them to achieve their goals. Educators are the prominent adults and mentors in a student’s life besides their parents. They spend eight hours, five days a week with their students not including after school tutoring and extra-curricular activities. Teachers go through the developmental process with their students as they learn mathematical equations, reading and writing skills. Teachers help shape the minds of the next generation by sharing major historical events and scientific breakthroughs. With support systems backing U.S. educators, a major part of their job purpose is to help high school students prepare for the transition into higher education. Here are eight ways to ensure your students are ready for college success.
1. Create Rigorous Work Schedules
Teaching to the lowest ten percent of students has become the focus, because of the “No Child Left Behind Act.” Studies have shown that this way of teaching doesn’t work and everyone’s instruction suffers. The Common Core Curriculum helps increase the rigor of teaching, but also means teachers need more instruction time. Most colleges expect students to know how to listen and take notes, how to identify the main points of an independent reading and create a coherent composition. These skills should be developed early on and students need to be able to read and write in every subject. Over time, a student’s reliance on teachers should decrease while the amount of homework and subject difficulty gradually increases.
2. Help with Course Selection
Encourage all students to take the most rigorous and challenging courses suitable for their academic level. College admission requirements are more demanding than most high school graduation requirements including competence in mathematics and some foreign language. It is important to provide insights on the type courses and GPA requirements that colleges expect to see on transcripts. As a teacher, it is essential that students are informed about opportunities to participate in college-prep and career-prep programs. A majority of students should be able to participate in concurrent enrollment or online college classes while still in high school.
3. Teach Financial Aid Options
Educate your students and their families on the available scholarships, grants and loans available for college programs. This can be especially intimidating for families that come from a low-income background. By hosting financial workshops, you’ll be able to help students fill out their FAFSA and gain access to money for college. Students with high grade point averages and participation in activities like debate, drama, sports or the arts can give students an advantage at getting scholarships. Educators can provide students with the resources to find local and national scholarships as well as program-specific scholarships that can ease the financial burden of higher education.
4. Help with the Application Process
Students need to understand the application process. You can help explain the process which can be confusing if the student's’ parents did not attend college. As a mentor to many students, take the time to edit students’ essays or write letters of recommendation. Students may be intimidated to ask for guidance, so reach out and let them know you want to help them with the many steps involved in the application process.
5. Help Implement Real World Experience
After graduation, many students will need to understand the importance of budgeting and tracking finances now that they are on their own. You can help students understand their true interests and passions by supporting career days and holding work study sessions. If you’re able to encourage students to find summer internships, these short-term jobs can showcase different career path options and help students select their major in college. Several studies suggest that students who obtain a high school internship have a competitive advantage in the college admission process and job employment market.
6. Encourage Independent Accountability
Students need to be held accountable for their work. When students are in a class of 200 students, professors cannot properly track down students to make sure all assignments are turned in. Maintaining a strict homework and paper policy may seem like tough love, but students will quickly learn to be accountable and turn in their assignments on time. This includes not having extra credit to make up for work they didn’t turn in. When students walk onto their college campus for the first time, they will quickly learn there are very few professors offer extra credit.
7. Encourage Teamwork
Students need the ability to work as a team to succeed. They need to understand how to communicate, compromise and share credit so they can be a contributing member on projects. Every college class has the dreaded group project, but it doesn’t have to be burden if students learn to successfully cooperate on projects in high school. When students are forced to manage a team project or build a report from scratch, it will be these group projects that prepare students for the end-of-year college presentations that will make or break their grade.
8. Instill Proper Research Techniques
In this digital age, many students no longer know how to use the library. While the library’s main purpose is book collections, many have helpful online resources available to assist students on any project. Students need to be taught that everything found on the Internet is not accurate and a majority of the information should be fact checked with research, studies or peer-reviewed articles. In a modern classroom, students need to be taught how to properly cite a source and evaluate websites for authority.
In a report by the Education Trust, only eight percent of high school graduates complete a full college-and career-prep curriculum. Additionally, the report reveals that less than one-third of graduates complete a college-ready course of study only, and a mere thirteen percent finish a career-ready course sequence only. This studies is able to show how many high school students are truly unprepared for the responsibilities and coursework they will face in higher education.
The current student population is the future of our nation, but as legislative and economic situations provide more uncertainty each week, it is important that teachers are properly preparing students for the next steps in their education and future careers. By implementing the eight different preparation strategies outlined above, motivated teachers and educators alike can proactively prepare students for the college transition.