College readiness is a vital aspect of higher education. Yet, despite this, over half of first-year college students report feeling unprepared for college even though they are academically ready.
What is College Readiness?
The college readiness definition isn’t narrowly related to academics. It encompasses far more than academic achievement. It is a set of skills required to succeed in college. As a result, college-ready students have a greater chance of completing their degree program than their academically equal counterparts.
Unlike academic readiness, which is usually measured by testing finite knowledge, college readiness often requires developing soft skills. There are several soft skills that parents can help with students focus on to help prepare them for the college experience.
In this article, we want to collectively examine the college and career readiness standards we have for our students so that we can fill any gaps that exist in our college and career readiness programs.
Let’s look at these soft skills and some of the benefits of college readiness.
College Readiness Skills Every Student Needs
Time Management and Self-management
High school students are used to a highly-structured environment. The school dictates their attendance, classes, and scheduled breaks. And parents often dictate their time and activities after school is dismissed.
This structure isn’t present for college students. While they do have a schedule for classes, they also have an unprecedented amount of freedom. Parents aren’t there to enforce class attendance or dictate healthy choices. For many students, this means focusing on having fun and excelling in their post-secondary academics.
Parents can help their high school students prepare for this by developing healthy habits that promote time management and self-management, including healthy sleeping and eating and understanding how to prioritize responsibilities. They can also practice providing advice or guidance to their children rather than solving their problems directly. Doing with before high school graduation gives students more freedom and confidence to make the right choices, which will continue into college.
Critical Thinking and Problem-solving
College is generally where many students learn to dig deep into problems and ask questions. They are expected to offer opinions and viewpoints and be undeterred even by complex issues. But these skills don’t simply magically appear as the student gets older.
While many high school teachers encourage critical thinking, there is still much that parents can do to foster the development of these skills. For example, they can provide information and ask children questions that require thought and in-depth responses. They can also help children develop a growth mindset by pointing out that failures are a natural part of the learning process. This approach helps students not to get discouraged by failure but to learn from these failures while continuing their education.
High school students often feel they have an excellent grasp of communication, and in many instances, they do. But that communication is often between friends, family members, and teachers.
Unfortunately, many modern graduates need to become more familiar with other types of communication, such as those with an employer or mentor. They may also need to gain skills related to written communication. Even a task as simple as scheduling a doctor’s appointment can be difficult for first-year college students who have never done so on their own
Many college students need further education on how to tailor their tone and communication style for communication.
One of the best ways to help students gain this skill is to let them practice before starting college. For example, you can share some of your communication transactions, such as emailing colleagues, scheduling appointments and meetings, and sending thank-you notes. Seeing this firsthand will help your child understand the nuances of these different interactions and how to communicate effectively across various settings.
Setting College and Career Readiness Goals
At the end of an academic career, the primary goal is to achieve career readiness. But in between high school graduation and college completion.
Unfortunately, breaking down significant goals — often seemingly impossible when you first start — into a series of small goals that may feel much more achievable isn’t a natural process for many students.
Helping students understand why goals are important and how small goals can feed into accomplishing major ones is one of the best ways to ensure your child is ready to tackle all the challenges they encounter during college.
This list represents many skills students need to thrive in a college setting and to ensure college readiness. In addition to this list, other skills may help prepare them. For instance, financial literacy is critical since most students require loans and other financial aid to complete college. As such, they should have a strong understanding of how it will impact their financial future. Collaboration and skills with modern technology will also be vital to completing many college courses.
So when we ask, “What is college readiness?” we need to think broadly about the answer. The reality is that college is a massive challenge for most students, but the more you can practice these skills with them in the years leading up to college, the better prepared they will be.