Making Sure High
School Doesn't Waste Your Time
Q. I'd like
to advise our daughter that while she's in high school, she ought to be
deliberate about having the kinds of experiences that will make her
well-rounded and exposed to enough of our world that she will have a better
idea of what she would like to major in, in college, and do for her career. I
just see so many kids who appear to kind of float through high school, or party
through it. What are the most important things for a high-school student to be
doing to make sure it's time well spent?
First might be choosing
the best high school in which to enroll, or even which state in which to live. In some places in the United States, high
school does appear to be a waste of time for many of the students. In a recent
year in Kentucky, for example, researchers reported that 46% of the high school
graduates who attended colleges in that state after graduation from Kentucky
schools had to have remediation in order to pass their course work. This
remediation, estimated at $25 million, was paid by taxpayers and the students'
parents in the form of college tuition and cost-covering that was on TOP of the
billions of dollars the Kentucky public schools spent on K-12 education that
supposedly was getting the students ready for college.
Also keep in mind that in Kentucky, the high-school
graduation rate is 72%. That means 28% of the kids who begin ninth grade in
that state DON'T wind up with a diploma.
(Kentucky data is from the Bluegrass Institute for Public
Policy Solutions, www.bluegrassinstitute.org)
might want to find out those two statistics for your state, and if you don't
like them, and can find a way to afford it, you might want to: (1) move your
child to the best private school you can afford or (2) move to a state with
neither of those is likely to be possible, and there's not much you can do to
improve the quality of high school classes once your child is already there, here
are some other ways to make sure high school doesn't waste your child's time:
allow your child to settle for the minimum in any subject area. If high school
graduation requirements are so easy, your child could graduate a year or two
early except for a course or two, maybe that high school is too easy overall
for an ambitious, college-bound student. Look hard at the graduation
requirements and course descriptions before you enroll, and compare with other
class work won't discipline and push your child, she will have to discipline
and push herself. Challenge her to be a person who will meet and exceed
expectations, every time. Challenge her to help her classmates make their
personal bests as well. Expect her to be a leader in and out of the classroom.
For your part, show academic leadership by not allowing her to slide by with
B's if you know she can make A's if she tries her best.
Service: there's a
little-known secret among "slackers," or students who don't participate in the
life of their school other than showing up for class. The secret is that when
you work closely together with other students on a good cause, you make good
friends. Even mediocre or poor high schools offer lots of service opportunities
for students to help other students or disadvantaged people; encourage your
daughter to take advantage of every opportunity she can find, to be of service.
a report that contends that students really do waste a lot of time "cruising"
through high school graduation requirements that are too easy. Among other
things, the survey found that only 30% of the students in the so-called tougher
college-prep courses felt they were challenged enough, and in the general
education courses, an astonishingly low 17% felt appropriately challenged by