High schools failing to challenge students

By Melissa Steven
September 16, 2005

Jerry Zurek

Entering college should not be such a shock as it is for some. I’m not talking about moving away from home or having to share a room with two other people, I’m talking about the course loads. Having to stay up all hours of the night to finish a project or to write a paper is a part of the average college student’s life, but when a freshman walks into a college classroom for the first time and hears that he or she has to read a book by next week it can be a complete shock.

It has been reported that just half of this year’s high school graduates have the reading skills needed to succeed in college, according to the New York Times. That does not sound right at all, but unfortunately I know what they are talking about.

I graduated from Archbishop Prendergast in Drexel Hill, Pa., in 2003 and I can tell you from first-hand experience that I was not prepared for college. High school was a joke. What I thought was a lot of work then was absolutely nothing compared to the work I do here now.

College challenges your mind, your endurance and pushes you to your limits to see how much you can take. High school on the other hand did not challenge me mentally, but rather only challenged or paid attention to the girls in honors classes.

In high school I wanted so desperately to be in one of the honors or AP classes so that I could be somewhat challenged, but because of how many seats were available, not everyone could get in to the class they should have been placed in. I’m not saying that I am this great genius, I just feel that I got ripped off out of a good high school learning experience and about half of this country statistically agrees with me. The National Governors Association conducted a poll asking both high school students and drop outs if they thought high school was challenging enough. Two out of three answered that they would work harder if the school offered them more challenging courses.

Reading one book a semester seemed like torture back in high school but now it’s a blessing when your teacher only assigns you four books and not six to finish before the semester ends.

High school was a lot of fun because there was nothing to do for homework and there was no stress, but I honestly can say that my eighth grade teacher prepared me more for college than my high school did. That teacher taught me how to outline, diagram sentences and read effectively. High school did not even reiterate those teachings to me or even attempt to teach students how to outline.

When I am in a history class and all you have to do is listen to the professor lecture and take notes, I am grateful to know how to do that because most of the kids in my class look dumbfounded when they realize they were supposed to be taking notes the whole time because the professor does not hand out outlines on the material that he’s just lectured on.

I never knew what electronic resources were before I can to Cabrini or even how to properly cite work in a research paper. You feel like a complete moron when you have to tell a professor that because no one taught you in high school. The saddest part was that I paid to go to Prendie to get a Catholic education, and I got nothing out of it. I should have just gone to Lower Merion and gotten a better education for free.

I know not everyone has had bad experiences with high school, but according to this report almost half have. It’s sad to see that the cost to go to private or Catholic schools has gone up and yet their quality has gone down. We pay so much for a good education but they cannot rise to the challenge to actually challenge their students.

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Melissa Steven

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