"We Trust Youth with the Truth"

College Readiness


In just a few decades at universities we have morphed from "in loco parentis" (college as a substitute parent) to sink or swim. This seemed to work adequately until we decided as a society that college was essential for every young person to thrive in a highly competitive, postmillennial socioeconomic environment. We have opened the floodgates; this is both a cause for celebration and a compelling reason to know the level of preparedness of each student as he or she enters the system.


The first day students enter college, many are in the throes of a developmental crisis. They should be assessed in several areas, including their academic ability, social skills, study skills, vocabulary, general knowledge, work history, and community involvement. The results of these assessments would be used to identify the types of support they will need to succeed. This data and interviews with the student can lead to a learning contract between the student and the institution. Participation should be voluntary, but students who opt out would be required to sign a waiver stating they were informed about any concerns and offered appropriate services. This individualized approach would bolster many students and increase their chances for academic success.


Granted, such an ambitious effort would seem to increase the workload for faculty and staff; no doubt, establishing such a program would take time and effort. It would also require a total buy-in from the administration, faculty, and staff. In a relatively short time, however, they would start to notice welcome differences in their daily activity. Professors would spend less time grading substandard papers. Students would participate in class discussions with more intellectual curiosity and civility. Student-affairs personnel would spend less time on discipline and more time on the holistic positive growth of students. Attrition would decrease, and we could stop maintaining the illusion that we are working hard on retention.


Adapted from Tom Bissonette's article in the Chronicle for Higher Education.


Meanwhile, YoungAndWiser, Inc.can provide readiness evaluations so the students and parents can prepare for the inevitable challenges that college poses.