Many students and families think that preparing for college is as simple as taking the SAT, applying for scholarships and having extracurriculars listed on their transcripts. This perception is fair given the lack of depth in the conversation that surrounds college readiness. The focus of college prep is on academic and school life, but the pursuit of higher education is far more comprehensive.
What is College Readiness?
College readiness refers to the set of skills and knowledge high school students need in their transition to college. Proper college readiness gives students the skills they need to find success at an institute of higher learning.
There are two main aspects to college life and consequently, to college readiness. In thinking about college prep, students and families need to spend time considering academics and life outside the classroom. Each has its subdivisions and we will explore them here.
Academics is a general term for coursework and getting good grades. But let’s dig deeper. What does it take to be a straight A’s student or to be a successful high school student who is prepared for college coursework?
A student can struggle to get good grades simply because of a lack of structure and poor schoolwork strategies. To deal with this, students can focus on these 5 areas of college prep:
Developing sound study habits
To develop good study habits, you must decide on the best study environment, ensure that the environment is free from distractions such as social media, learn how to organize study materials and notes, contemplate if you retain information better in the morning or at night, and add personal incentives to study sessions.
Improving note taking skills
Taking good and structured notes is paramount to classroom success. It’s impossible to have a good study session if you have subpar and unorganized notes. Good note taking adds some ease homework, studying and assignments and many students lack this important classroom skill.
Learning how to write a good essay
Writing a quality and structured essay becomes more important for students aspiring to higher education. To succeed in high school and college, students need to have strong essay writing skills where they can present any argument in a structured and clear way.
Understanding individual learning Style
Why is it important to understand your learning style?
Because it will guide your study habits. Having an understanding of your learning style will influence how you study, where you study, when you study and other factors like choice in study aids.
College on the surface seems like it’s just about getting good grades, but any college student or graduate can attest that there are many layers to achieving academic success at an institute of higher learning. Academic success is highly reliant on a student’s life outside the classroom.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
What does ‘life outside the classroom’ even mean?
Life outside the classroom refers to having a social and personal life, seeking out help and additional resources, and sometimes a work life. There are 24 hours in a day, and that’s not enough to balance academics and extracurriculars, social, personal and work life. The point of college readiness is to teach students how to find balance in all these aspects of their lives and ensure their success in achieving higher education at the college of their dreams.
We’ve all heard the term ‘time-management’ and have a general understanding of what it means. But time-management sometimes demands sacrifice as we divy our time based on our priorities. Twenty-four hours is sometimes not enough for you to go to class, complete homework and class assignments, maintain a healthy mental, physical, emotional, personal and social life and sometimes fulfill the demands of a job. This all only becomes possible once you develop strong time-management skills that help you determine how to allot your time and teaches you how to prioritize.
Seeking out additional resources
As a student, you will have to jump some hurdles to complete the race that is a college education. The race will be strenuous, but thankfully universities have resources and staff that are readily available to offer help. However, it is your responsibility to seek out these resources.
Build self-advocacy skills
Beyond identifying the available resources, students also need to know how to get those and other resources. It’s important to know how and when to ask for help. Who do you talk to about dropping and adding a class? Where do you go to get a mentor? How can you apply for additional smaller scholarships? To be college ready, is also to know that you have access to these things.
Through the Dorson Scholars Program, Dorson Community Foundation offers a college readiness course that aims to arm students with the necessary skills for success at the college of their dreams. Students learn practical skills that prepare them for the transition from high school to college and onward.