Thursday, October 30, 2014

College Readiness: Beyond the high school transcript

For the past few years, high school and college counselors have been emphasizing the importance of the non-cognitive, “soft” or life skills in preparing students for the college experience.  College readiness is simply not just about grades or test scores. 

As our daughters are now a college freshman and a high school junior respectively, I’m thinking about this issue from both sides of the matriculation doorway.  How do we best help our children develop the skills and fortitude they need to learn and live independently?
With some research and a lot of reflection I’ve come up with a list of skills and qualities I believe young adults need to develop to prepare for entering college:

(Click on each highlighted skill for a link to a relevant article/website)

1) Academic Strategies: Not the same as academic success, these are the learn-how-to-learn strategies such as study habits, class participation, and engagement with the teacher.

2) Practical Know-how: Does your high school student know how to do his/her own laundry, sew on a button, prepare a simple meal?

3) Financial Literacy: Students need to know how to handle money, manage a bank account and a budget, and handle a debit or credit card.

4) Social Confidence: This skill seems obvious, but many young adults have trouble navigating the college social scene—how to discuss disagreements with roommates, offer and accept invitations, make new friends, respond to peer pressure.

5) Resilience: Although this may be a popular buzz word, along with “grit,” these days, the ability to preserve through difficulties whether academic, social or emotional is key for college success.

Of course developing these qualities and skills takes time and practice. There is no one “test” to measure whether a student is successful.  Next time I’m stressing about my daughter’s calculus exam; nonetheless, I plan to focus more on her resilient attitude and study strategies and less on the grade she hopes to achieve.

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