What does “college ready” mean? Dean Dad tackles the question from a community college instructor teaching first-year writing. He offers two definitions:
The first is the student who places immediately into college-level courses, who has the finances, transportation, and books all arranged, and who has a clear goal in mind. This student is optimally prepared to succeed in college, and it would be glorious if more students arrived like this. Students who know what they want are likelier to attain it, and students who have their various ducks in a row at the outset are well-situated to succeed. … (Do they succeed because they’re prepared, or are they prepared because they’re the type that tend to succeed? I’d guess it’s some of each.)
The second is the student who has identifiable risk factors, but who can still get it together. This is the more common type . . . This is the student with some academic gaps, some economic or family challenges, and, sometimes, some old, unhelpful habits that tend to die hard.
At colleges that take the second type — and the third type, the totally unprepared — it’s challenging to teach introductory and developmental courses year after year, the dean writes. Some people burn out.
Instructors need “to convey to students an expectation that they will succeed,” and help students identify their goals so they’ll see a purpose to their effort.
His own college has shifted career advising from the last semester to the first semester. “Once the goal is in mind, it’s much easier to have discussions about pathways and strategies,” the dean writes.