The transition from high school to college is one of the greatest leaps that a student will take in his or her young life. Each year in the United States, millions of students graduate from high school, the majority of them moving on to continue their educational careers in college. Are high school graduates truly prepared for college and life beyond high school? I did not truly understand the extent to which I would have to adapt and grow after graduating from high school until I experienced it myself.
College is defined as an educational institution. For most students, the education that they receive at a college or university goes far beyond the classroom. Being in college is a unique educational and social experience unlike any other. Many college students are teenagers whom graduated from high school only months before beginning their educational careers as college students. When I was first entering college, I did not know what to expect. I had heard stories from friends and family about their experiences in college. I had read articles and watched YouTube videos about what to expect when entering college. Since everyone’s college experience is unique and different, I learned that no one can truly prepare for college until they experience it themselves.
Most parents prepare their children for college by teaching them simple tasks they will need to know when living on their own, like how to iron and do laundry. While these life skills are important to know, they only make a dent in preparing a student for what they need to know when moving into college. How can a parent prepare their child for what to do when a month into the school year their friend comes up to their dorm so drunk that they vomit all over the floor? Most of the learning that occurs in college happens outside of the classroom. How many times in your life will a bunch of 18-20-year-olds be sharing a living and learning space? Where, outside of college, will you have to share a bathroom with 15 other teenage girls?
College is a unique social experience different from any other. When living at home, people have the ability to go off and be alone if they choose to. Or, if they want to be social and interact with friends, they have that option, as well. In college, on the other hand, privacy is hard to come by. Most college students have at least one roommate, so there is always at least one person whom you are sharing your living space with. If you want a quiet, secluded space to study, college students usually seek out the library, along with dozens or even thousands of students seeking out the same solitude. It is not all bad, though. In college, there is always something to do, somewhere to go, and people to interact with. I cannot remember a time when I was lonely or bored at college; even simple Walmart runs usually include a traveling companion.
While college does teach students how to be independent, along with other important social skills, what about life beyond college? Less than 50% of college graduates say that they are ready for life beyond college. Many graduates have a hard time finding jobs, causing them to continue living with their parents for years beyond graduation. How can we better prepare our college graduates for the future? Include classes that teach students how to create a resume and seek out job opportunities. Teach students what to expect when walking into a job interview. Why do we live in a world where the average 18-year-old, myself included, does not know how to balance a checkbook or apply for a loan? Students in both high schools and colleges should be better educated and prepared for life after graduation.