Preparing Students for their Educational Future: Gaps and Opportunities
The first high school I worked at in the late ’90s had an elective course that was designed to prepare seniors for life after high school. As you may suspect, it was a popular class – innovative, unconstrained by state mandates, student-focused, and made explicit connections between life and the course students were taking. Discussions about it being a requirement and not an elective were a regular occurrence.
What was unique about the course was that students were asked to create a “Mentor Network.” For context, this is pre-internet ubiquity, so finding answers and having instant access to information was not in the palm of your hand. Regardless, what occurred during the course couldn’t be discovered with a web search. Contrastingly, what did happen was applied to learn. Skills and mindsets that could be taught, which means schools can be supported to achieve those outcomes, fill gaps and produce new opportunities. So, how can your organization be involved with preparing students for their future?
When I asked current college students about the topic of this article, “help with time management” was the most shared area of unpreparedness. Supporting this skill set are the practices of goal setting and motivation. We all get 24 hours a day. Successfully personalizing for students how to prioritize and use those hours is a service everyone can use.
Taking Advantage of Opportunities:
We all have comfort zones we act and think in.
But college should be a time to expand those comfort zones. One way to do that is to actively seek out opportunities that sit beyond the perimeter of security.
- Instilling in students that their years in college are finite and the opportunities to study abroad, join a club, demonstrate, attend a lecture are valuable only if they participate in them.
Advocating for Yourself: Being your own biggest fan is an enviable quality.
Luckily I can be learned and developed.
High Schools typically have a multitude of supports available with easy access. Parents are also regular advocates.
- In college that should change. Developing a disposition that is proactive and includes knowing how to talk with professors, navigate organizational offices, and access leaders will benefit students in college and beyond.
How to End 12th Grade:
My hunch is that if you asked seniors what graduation commencement means, most would say that it is the end of their time in high school. Making the transition, the start of life after high school, should be a maturing, life-changing opportunity. Having an “I know how to…” guidance reference that addresses social, financial, political, and personal realities that are on the horizon would support their launch into adulthood. Helping students learn what they need to know and do to succeed is educational gold.
As you explore education’s landscape, it will be valuable to note the variety in schools’ infrastructures, curriculums, and offices. How do these organizational components prepare students to leave one school for a very different one? Each student will take a toolkit with them to use in college. Helping to stock, use, and update the toolkit is where you come in.