Wednesday, August 31, 2011

College Board report says that teenagers still think like teenagers

So I’m reading a variety of blogs that are looking at this report from the College Board; the “One Year Out” report.  1,500 “year out” kids were polled about their high school careers translating into college or work.  Some analysis is critical of what high schools are providing for students because of a few statistics:

-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.

Not totally surprising in my eyes.  But then check out Curriculum Matters’ attempt to manage the teenage mind.

“…graduates who enrolled in college clearly had a reason to say they wish they'd taken tougher courses in high school; half reported that their college courses were more difficult than they'd expected, and one-quarter got stuck in remedial classes. But here comes the confounding piece: two-thirds of the students still report that their high schools did a good job of preparing them for college-level work.

High schools got mixed reports about how well they did preparing students for work, too. Four in 10 students said their schools fell short in that regard. Students' voices showed more discontent with the way their schools prepared them for work than with the way they prepared them for college, suggesting that high schools are more accomplished on the college-ready side of the coin than they are on the work-ready side.

Students also complained that they got too little help mastering everyday life skills, like managing their finances, and in making a smooth transition to college life.

When you roll all of that up together, it's interesting to learn that 82 percent of the students still look back on their overall high school experience and report that they are satisfied with it. (This at the very same time that 80 percent of the students said they would change something about their high school years.)”

By the way, the title of the above blog post is “High School Shortchanged Us, Students Report”.  I find it amusing that the tone of the post seems so astounded at the vacillation of the teenage mind.   Let me help translate some of this. 

Student: “Mr. Silva-Brown, I’d like to take your AP U.S. History class.  It’s said to be rigorous and does a good job preparing you for college.  Only I want to remind you that I will be gone about six weeks during the year.  I have to go to my cousin’s wedding, my family Christmas in Southern California, a ski trip in February, and I need to visit a few college in April.  Oh and I golf too so I might miss a few Thursdays and Fridays in the Spring.  And make sure this class isn’t in the mornings either because I’ll miss a few because I enjoy the sleep.  Oh, and do you have a lot of reading?  I have a lot to do in the afternoon what with working with little kids and hanging out at Starbucks.  And during the two Homecoming weeks I need to work on the float and the skit and the…. Wait.  You know what?  This class really isn’t for me.” 

Fast forward to a year later.

Student:  “Fucking high school didn’t prepare me for this college shit.”

Fast forward to another year later when they take the poll.

Student:  “Yeah, high school didn’t really do a good job preparing me for the workload of college.”

Pollster:  “So you didn’t enjoy your high school experience?”

Student:  “No way!  I loved it!  We won the Spirit Bell.  I played some fantastic golf courses.  I had an active social life.  Learned some calculus.  Hung out with family.  I probably could have worked a little harder, but damn if I was going to let essays interfere with Homecoming.”

I’ve had a dozen students bail out of two AP classes this year and take less rigorous courses.  Some even brought their parents into my classroom to give a spiel about how tough their kid’s schedule was and that I shouldn’t even think of challenging the drop.  I didn’t and they left.  It’s their choice. 

Look, kids that want to go to college are told over and over about the rigor of college, and only people that haven’t been on a campus would think they have been someone duped that college is easy.  We work and work with kids to push themselves inside and outside the classroom.  Many do.  The average kid does not.  The average kid finds the greatest benefit through the path of least resistance until he/she realizes that they’ll have to work to get a piece of the pie of life.  Want to know why kids have a tough transition to college?  Because a huge swath do not visit the campus, rank academics as a lower priority than social life, and totally forget that they are even going to college until August.  Or did you totally forget about Senioritis. 

Want more insight about how teenagers are thinking?  Before you analyze statistics give a really honest look at how you were in high school.  The answers might make more sense. 

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