College-Ready Is About Freedom of Choice

September 26, 2011 at 10:12 AM Leave a comment

Every child deserves the right to choose to pursue college or career options after high school. To preserve that freedom, I have no choice but to prepare every child for either path. Besides, sophisticated new materials and technology are making it harder to differentiate the two.

College is not for everybody, especially as an immediate next step after high school. Jobs, volunteerism, or vocational training may be better choices at any given time. However, it is not up to me to sort out who belongs where. Even when a child is adamant that he or she wishes to prepare for a trade, I must remain committed to ensuring that college remains an option.

A child may not demonstrate academic focus or commitment at a given time. A common response to the pressure of choosing colleges and applying for admission is to opt out of the process. “I don’t want to go to college. I think I’ll be a …” In many families, a proud tradition within a profession may limit perceived options. Further, education finance may create a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. None of these short-term factors warrants closing the door on college forever. And that is the choice I have made for the child whom I fail to prepare. I do not have the proxy right of that future adult, especially when acting out of lowered expectations.

Building a life on the platform of mechanical ability is not guaranteed. Local technical schools that include heating and plumbing or carpentry expect students to be well-versed in trigonometry. Physics and other sciences may figure heavily in construction and electrical systems. Persuasive speaking and effective communication pay off in marketing and operations. A successful entrepreneur or company tradesman might show tremendous leadership ability; however, he or she would be hamstrung without training in finance or managerial decision-making. The future holds unknown possibilities, and lifelong learning is crucial to everyone.

Choosing to continue ones education after high school is risky as well. The intent to pursue higher education must be matched with strong skills to meet academic challenges. There is little that is more discouraging than an encounter with a former student who is unemployed and saddled with debt from an unsuccessful year or two in college. Genuine college preparation is part of the sacred trust between educators and their students. All of them.

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Entry filed under: College Readiness.

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