As someone who is concerned about making sure that kids get the best education they can you may be interested in my opinion.

     I have been reading a lot lately about the number of high school graduates who are required to take remedial courses in college before they are ready for college-level work.  Here are a few insights from someone who knows why this happens.

     The problem stems from the fact that many people believe that there is a correlation between the number of students who earn a high school diploma, and the number of college-ready students leaving our high schools.  In reality, there is no correlation between these things.  A high school diploma indicates only that a student has successfully completed (70%+) a minimal number of basic, academic courses.  And, contrary to what many people believe,  passing the state mandated standardized test is no indicator that a student is prepared for college-level work.  What we're left with, because of these misunderstandings, is a lot more college bound students than college ready students.

     Until students and parents come to the realization that they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the student's education this problem will continue.  The reason there are more college bound students than college ready students is because many high school graduates are not academically ready for college.  Not because of anything the schools have done/not done, but because the students chose to take the easiest courses in high school.

     Many of the college-bound-but-not-college-ready students did not enter high school with the idea that four years later they would be attending college.  Often times the idea of going to college is not appealing until a student is in the middle of his junior year of high school.  By then it's too late to switch to a college preparatory curriculum, because the student has not taken the prerequisite courses to enable him to successfully complete more advanced levels of work.

     Students who choose to avoid challenging classes in their first two years of high school pretty much seal their fate to graduate under-prepared for college level work.

     In reality, students who want to be able to attend college after high school graduation need to be making challenging academic choices before 9th grade.  Students who are not excelling in academic courses (that they have the ability and prerequisites for) in middle school are already setting themselves up to be under-prepared for college upon graduation from high school.  The reality is that students who do not take academically challenging courses in middle and high school will probably not be prepared for college upon graduating from high school.  The two basic tenets of college preparedness for K-12 students are attendance and effort.

     Attendance means coming to school every day with all the materials needed, with organized work, completed homework and notes, ready to learn.  Effort means expending 100% of your ability to learn in every class every day, and being enrolled in classes that challenge you at your top level of ability.  Any less and you will find yourself struggling when time for college comes around.

     It is also time to come to the realization that many students are not college material.  Parents and educators can push, plead, shove, and cajole students to do their best in school so they will be ready for the rigors of college life, but some students are just not up to the challenge - college is not for everyone. It never was meant to be easy enough for everyone to be successful, and it never will be.  ** You can lead a kid to knowledge, but you can't make him think.**


     Look at it like this: If no students were coming out of our high schools and finding success in college then you could blame the schools, but many students leave our high schools well prepared  and are successful in college.  What that should tell us is that the courses that prepare students for college are successful in doing just that, but there must be a lot of students who are not taking full advantage of the college-prep courses, but who decide to go to college, anyway.

     I have to add that parents often doom their kids to failure in college by not demanding that they do their best in rigorous courses in high school.  Many of the teachers of challenging classes take a lot of heat from parents about how much homework there is in these courses.  While on the other hand these same parents expect their children to graduate from high school well prepared for college.  Unfortunately, you can't have it both ways.  There are no short cuts to knowledge, you have to work. It has been my experience that many parents are more interested in their children having a terrific social experience in school than ensuring that they are being successful in rigorous academic courses.

     Often parents have no problem with their children practicing a sport for 2, or 3 hours each day, but feel that the math, science, and English teachers should be able to help their children master difficult material in 40, or 50 minutes in class each day without much outside practice.  You can't have your priority focused on non-academics and expect to excel in academics.  *Time is the currency of life, spend it wisely - what you spend the majority of your waking moments doing is what you will become best at.

     Parents paying private school tuition before college have an advantage, they see their money going to pay for school and they expect the same kind of academic excellence from their children in grades K - 12 that they expect from them in college.