Friday Thoughts: College Preparation
This past week’s college trip left me with one question—how can we best prepare our students for college?
Here are some things we excel at doing and some things to think about:
1. Provide opportunities for students to lead and participate in campus activities. We do a great job of this, but it wouldn’t hurt to have more opportunities for students and for us to think about responsibilities we can shift from faculty to students. It reminds me of this thought from Seth Godin in regards to college students:
Would you be interested in hiring the kid who coached the team that won the Rose Bowl? How about working for someone who had handled logistics for five hundred employees at a 50,000-seat stadium? Or having your accounting done by someone who learned the craft tracking a million dollars’ worth of ticket sales? (Stop Stealing Dreams, p. 82)
2. Develop relationships with students to help them identify their strengths and God-given talents. Much of high school is about learning one’s own identity which then helps sets the course for college and beyond. We do a good job of helping students with this, and we need to keep it up!
3. Talk about college— both early and often. By the time students are high schoolers, they’ve established their study habits (both good and bad) and many have defined the type of student they are. However, by thinking about the next level constantly, students will be able to push through tough times and stay disciplined in order to reach their goals.
4. Expose students to college campuses. Growing up I had two college campus experiences: One, I grew up in a college town, and two, I attended church camps at Harding and Lipscomb. That’s it. I would have benefited greatly from visiting different schools and learning more about them. We need to find more opportunities for our students to do this.
5. Connect our students with college students. We need to be sure we use our recent alumni as assets and resources to help our younger students see the light at the end of the tunnel.
6. Set correct expectations (but set that bar high). With kids, it’s easier to pick up their slack and do certain things for them rather than taking the time to hold them to high expectations. (A good example would be putting my kids’ shoes on their feet versus patiently waiting for them to.) But as a parent and as an educator, consistency and expectations are critical. Andy Andrews said, “We’re not trying to raise great kids. We’re trying to raise kids who will become great adults.” In order to do that, we have to keep that bar high and help kids reach it. But think about that “setting the bar high” metaphor— the only way a high jumper knows the limit is by knocking down the bar. The same goes for our kids. They’re going to knock the bar down again and again, and we have to be willing to put it back up.
7. Prepare students for today’s college experience. It’s amazing how much college has changed since I was a student. We need to make sure we’re telling the truth when we say to students, “You’ll need to know how to do this when you’re in college.” That may not be true. They might need to know something completely different.
8. Enjoy the high school experience. Sure, college is fun and some say it’s the best four-year stretch of life. But, high school is a whole lot of fun, too!