Many High School Students Ill Prepared for College

Byline: Kate Lautenbach

Posted: May 19, 2011

Many college students throughout the United States are struggling with their inability to complete assignments due to a lack of educational background. Local statistics show that many Wilson College students are also experiencing this difficulty.

Imagine entering a class and not knowing if you could mentally or emotionally handle the work. What if all that stood between you and your degree were a few tests that you did not have the English composition background to complete? It is not enjoyable to sit in an entry-level class and realize that you do not have the background to finish the course for credit.

Are Students Prepared?

A recent research project by professors at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, found that only 32% of all public school graduates leave high school qualified to attend four-year colleges. The same is true when looking at ACT scores. According to an article by Catherine Gewertz of Education Week, out of all the students taking the ACT, only 23 % were college ready. ACT officials found that while 67% of test-takers had sufficient background in English, only 42% did in math and 28% in science. These statistics indicate that high schools need definite improvement in their math and science studies. Wilson College student Leah Martin 13’ says, “Labs are different in college, more hands on, integrating things like that in high-school would help.”

Are Wilson Students Prepared?

In a Wilson College campus wide survey, it was found that approximately 3 out of every 11 students felt that they were not academically prepared for college. 60% of the students polled say that they need help in math, 26% in science and 13% in English. Many of the students who felt unprepared stated that it was because their high schools did not require or offer courses that were needed. Other students said that their high school did not take the time to help them properly, or that they were held back by others who criticized them for their strengths.

All of these survey findings add up to one problem. Many students do not leave high-school college ready, mostly because of insufficient school programs. Wilson College Professor Freya Burnett, who instructed the Fall 2009 Equine in Art First Year Studies class, says, “If high schools could go back and support as well as teach, I think they would benefit.”

What Can Help?

Many students said that Advanced Placement Courses helped them succeed in college. According to The College Board, students who take these courses have a 75% higher chance of completing their bachelor’s degree in four years instead of five to six. Many students in the Wilson College survey who believed that they were ready for college stated that they had taken AP classes. Most of these students also said that the AP classes were the main or only reason that they felt ready for college. Martin '13 says, “We had two AP classes that guided us in high school; they help us to be prepared.”

Another way in which students could improve would be by integrating closer communication with counselors and teachers. Professor Burnett says, “One way that high schools would benefit is if they would help the students like professors at Wilson College do. When I see that a student is struggling, I write a note on their paper asking them to come see me outside of class. I am sure that there are quite a few other professors here at Wilson that do so as well.” This collaboration could aid the student in identifying their problems and bring them closer to working towards a solution.

The problem of underprepared high school graduates is clearly a problem that can be solved quickly if it is recognized. Increased collaboration between students and teachers or counselors will help identify those students who need the most help. These students can then be aided outside the classroom, and guided to take classes that will help them excel in their studies. This helps to minimize ill prepared high school graduates, and brings the level of education in the United States to a new height.

Last Updated: September 20, 2011

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