Many high school students see higher education as the natural next step after high school; however, few enter college with the knowledge of its demands. A recent special report released by IQS research explores the disparities between what students expect of college and what college expects of them. The report identifies an ignorance of the personal and academic challenges as an important reason for academic failure.
The data suggests that many students—even those that faced relatively few challenges in high school—are entering college without realistic expectations and necessary non-cognitive skills (e.g. self-control, goal-setting, and discipline). According to the report, nearly half of students in grades 7 through 12 expressed that they do not believe that college will be difficult.
These mistaken attitudes begin at a young age, and have the power to dictate a student’s ultimate success in higher education. If students entering college fail to acknowledge the challenges ahead of them and to adopt the behaviors and skills necessary to persevere in college, students are more likely to poorly balance their academic and social life, leading to class failures, or worse, dropping out.
This is perhaps a heightened issue for teens from low-income backgrounds, who are taught that higher education is the holy grail. For them, attending college is presented as the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. This outlook presents one concerning problem: by viewing college as a means to an end, our most at-risk youth are missing the reality that simply getting into college won’t matter if they can’t get through.
Parents and practitioners have the ability to help all teens better prepare for college, both mentally and academically, by addressing the realities of college at a young age. Ultimately, we must strive for our young people to understand that pursuing a higher education is not only important but also challenging. By informing our youth and providing them with the resources and skill-building opportunities they need to be successful in their transition, we can ensure their future perseverance in higher education.