You might be surprised to learn that more than half of first-year college students say they aren’t prepared for college, despite being academically eligible to attend.
College readiness can ensure this doesn’t happen.
By definition, college readiness is the set of skills, behaviors, and knowledge a high school student should have before enrollment in their first year of college. Counselors and teachers play a key role in making sure this happens and can help students find academic success in college. If you’re already a teacher, or studying to become one, it’s important to know how you can effectively prepare your students for college.
Why is College Readiness Important?
The transition from high school to college is a major one. In many cases, students move away from home and embark on a new life chapter—both academically and personally. It’s crucial for parents and teachers to understand why college readiness is important so that they can better prepare students for a successful college experience even before enrollment.
Multiple studies show that college readiness improves a student’s chance of actually completing their degree. But the impact is even bigger than that. According to a report by American College Testing (ACT), high school graduates need to be college and career-ready in order to have a properly skilled workforce that meets the demands of the 21st century.
Below are some ways teachers can equip their students for that next academic step.
How Can Teachers Measure College Readiness?
True college readiness requires both academic and real-world skills. In fact, the ability to solve problems, work in a team, and be resourceful are viewed by some experts as equally important to mastering mathematics and reading. So, while many colleges use ACT/SAT scores or a student’s high school GPA to measure college readiness, there are other indicators or “soft skills” that teachers can look for.
Essential Soft Skills for College Readiness
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Goal setting
Here are five tips you can use to better equip students for college success.
Focus on Executive Function Skills – Executive function refers to the mental skills that we use every day to learn and manage our daily lives. They include things such as memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. These skills can develop at different rates in different students. One way you can help support students in developing these skills is to establish a mindfulness routine that includes regular self-check-ins, self-reflection, intention setting, and gratitude practice.
Make the Classroom More Rigorous – It might be a challenge at first, but updates to the curriculum to include more intensive coursework is key to ensure students are well equipped with the broader set of strategies they’ll need for college. You can do this by implementing a challenging curriculum and assign longer, more complex assignments that involve things such as research, collaboration, and problem-solving.
Another thing you can do to help prepare your students for college is to teach them the value of extracurricular activities or after-school jobs. These things demonstrate to college admission officers that a student is well rounded and capable of handling the responsibilities that come with college.
Consider Social Aspects of College – Teachers can better prepare their students for college by teaching the social-emotional skills that they need to thrive in a post-secondary setting. Assigning group projects that promote collaboration and encouraging students to become involved in school activities, volunteer opportunities, or cultural events can encourage students to flex their interpersonal skills.
Teach Practical Skills – The best way to teach practical skills is to create coursework that allows students to put them into practice. Educators should look for opportunities to incorporate real-world skills into their instruction. For example, if you’re a math teacher, you can teach students how various math concepts relate to financial literacy, budgeting, or even preparing food.
Encourage Additional Preparation Resources – Prep courses and Advanced Placement (AP) classes are two of the best ways to academically prepare students for college. Not only do they give students a preview of what’s to come, but in many cases, students can earn college credit and get a head start on their college career.
Preparing students for the financial responsibility of college is important, too. The Department of Education’s financial aid toolkit offers multiple free resources for teachers and their students.