4 tips for students to ensure college success

Posted at 2:18 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 15:18:04-04

Scoring high on standardized tests and earning good grades in high school will boost students who apply for college, but the best high schools will also prepare them post-secondary success.

Only 26 percent of college instructors believe high school students are prepared for college, according to a 2009 survey by the ACT. And only a quarter of the graduates who took the ACT in 2013 met the readiness benchmarks in all four core subjects — English, reading, science and math — in 2013, a figure that dropped from 31 percent from the previous year.

“I believe we need to give kids the foundation for critical thinking skills at the high school level so that they’ll thrive when they enter college,” said Richard Murphy, M.A., M.Ed., director of counseling at St. Pius X High School, a private Catholic college preparatory high school north of the river in Kansas City, Missouri.



Here are four recommendations to ensure a high school student’s readiness for college.

·         Take difficult classes. It’s important to take difficult classes as early as freshman year, instead of waiting until junior or senior year of high school, as most students do, Murphy said. The sooner a student takes core subjects, the better he’ll be prepared when it’s time to start college, when the classes will be even more difficult.

·         Start thinking about a career. College students don’t need to declare a major until their sophomore or junior year of college, but they should start thinking in high school about what they want to do, and use this as a time to take classes in the subject. Students at St. Pius X who are interested in becoming journalists could take a broadcast journalism class, which teaches reporting, camera work, video production, editing, critiquing and advertising. In the class, they even have daily story meetings replicating a real newsroom, so students can get a real feel for what it’s like to be a reporter. “It’s important to take a well-rounded curriculum of classes in high school, especially core subjects, so that when time for college arrives, you can really focus,” Murphy said.

·         Find a mentor at the student’s preferred college. This could be an alumnus from a student’s local high school who could help guide him through class selections or simply give a campus tour, Murphy said. Many schools will assign a professor to each student, but a peer mentor tends to be more influential with incoming freshmen.

·         Learn how to study. Many high school students may be able to get by without studying very much outside of school hours. But that simply will not cut it when they get to a university. “Learning how to study efficiently and effectively, managing time throughout the day and refining organization skills are necessary for college or university success,” Murphy said.