Friday, March 21, 2008

Graduating From College Takes Preparation

I spend a great deal of my time talking to teens and parents about getting into colleges. Yet there’s a related topic that I don’t usually talk about. This is going all the way on the journey – finishing college with a degree.

According to Harry H. Harrison Jr. in his new book “1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know,” the statistics on the number of students who start college and then actually graduate are not encouraging. He says that “only 54 percent of college freshmen graduate within six years.”

Harrison has a great deal of good advice, and some advice with which I don’t necessarily agree. Yet this one piece of advice about college really made me smile:

“You need to know that preparation is a key to graduation. Showing up to class unprepared means a quick turn in the career path … toward flipping burgers.”

One problem, I believe, is that the Advance Placement courses taken in high school -- which are supposedly the equivalent of college courses -- give a false sense of security to incoming college freshmen.

“Hey, I’ve taken five AP classes in high school. I’m prepared for college work.”

Most incoming freshmen couldn’t be more wrong. And here’s one reason why this is so:

You took an AP class that probably met every school day with the same regularity as other classes. You knew you had to study each night for the next day’s class.

In college your classes will usually meet only two or three times a week. It’s very easy to put off studying because you don’t have this class the next day. Then, whoops, it’s class time again and you never got around to studying.

The truth is, having lots of free time in college instead of the structured high school day can be detrimental to your college academic record and your chance of graduating with a degree.

When in college try to study a little each night on each subject, the way you did in high school. In this way you will be better prepared for each class -- and better prepared to stay in college until you get your degree.

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