Sitting in the dark

A pair of Sam Houston State professors from the Educational Leadership & Counseling Department conducted a report that concluded that Texas high school graduates are largely unprepared for college.

The professors decided to perform this study because “high schools have come under recent scrutiny in the quality of their programs and curriculum related to college preparedness” according to Julie Combs, Associate Editor and Educational Researcher, who participated in the study.

“Because one predictor of students’ success in college has been the quality of their high school curricula and because a growing proportion of beginning college students are in need of remediation once they attend college, I and others examined the college readiness rates of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 high school seniors,” Combs said.

The results of the study showed that one-third of all Texas high school graduates were prepared for college in the two areas covered, reading and math. Girls had higher readiness in reading than boys, but boys were more prepared in math.

There were also differences in readiness between white, African-American and Hispanic students.

For prospective students applying to SHSU, it seems that college-readiness all depends on the district in which they went to high school.

“Some districts are set in their ways and don’t want to change to better their students knowledge of life after high school, whereas others do a great job,” David Cohen, SHSU Undergraduate Admissions counselor, said. “I think in the districts that don’t prepare their students as well, it probably has to do with the financial situations of not only the district, but the individual families and how they are brought up. Many [students] have big dreams of being a big business CEO, but cannot spell the word business on the request cards that they fill out at a college fair.”

Many Bearkats feel that they were led into a false sense of security by their high schools once they actually stepped into the role of a college student.

“When I graduated high school I didn’t think that I was overly prepared, but I thought that I was ready,” Freshman Chelsi Nelson said. “But then the first couple of weeks I was kind of angry because I realized that I wasn’t prepared at all.”

Other students turned out to be pleasantly surprised at their readiness.

“I actually found that I was quite prepared, but perhaps that wasn’t a direct result of attending high school,” Freshman Brittany Winner said. “A lot of my teachers in high school were adamant about preparing us for ‘the real world,’ aka college, and that inevitably resulted in more challenging classes, which really set the stage for the college experience.”

After the research was complete, the professors concluded that one solution could be found sitting on college campuses already. According to Combs, current college students can help increase the number of high school graduates who are ready for college by relaying their experiences to the younger generations.

“Students can help prepare younger brothers and sisters, children, nieces and nephews by sharing what it is like to be in college and relate how their K-12 experiences are relevant to college,” Combs said. “College students have a unique perspective and have much credibility with K-12 students and can share in the goal of preparing our future work force.”

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