Does High School Really Prepare You For Real Life?
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Does High School Really Prepare You For Real Life?

Education's goal is to help students transition to the "real world", but is that goal reached?

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Does High School Really Prepare You For Real Life?
U.S. News & World Report

From the day I stepped into the high school I spent four years in, I heard a mantra that followed me all throughout my high school career: "It'll be different in college. They won't baby you like this in college." This was supposed to make us work harder, aim higher, and supposedly telling us this over and over again would help prepare us for the scary world ahead.

Well, I made it through high school. Now I'm here.

Grades were always of particular importance in high school, to me and my parents. Because of this, I graduated magna cum laude and when I walked across that stage amidst clapping I felt proud. I'd worked hard, I thought, so I should be prepared for what college has in store. In a sense, I was right: I brought with me the work ethic I'd need to max out on credits during my first semester.

But here's the thing: the work ethic I brought to college was self and parent cultivated. I'd worked through my entire high school career developing ways to study, ways to write essays efficiently, and ways to do well on tests and exams. The clincher? High school didn't help me that much.

I was lucky and got to be a part of a program known as New Tech, along with the fact that my school district got a grant when I was in sixth grade that provided a laptop to every student in the middle and high schools. New Tech was like a school within a school, steeped in Project Based Learning, where students would work in groups to master content and present their findings to the class and even outside audiences. Graduating from the New Tech program provided me with oral presentation skills, research knowledge, and an internship my junior year of High School that bolstered my resume significantly. However, despite the fact that modern education's aim is to prepare students for the "real world", myself and many people around me feel dangerously lost once we walk across the stage and toss our high school caps.

The fact of the matter is that schools today aren't really preparing students as well as we'd like to think. We forget most of what we learned in high school; can anyone say they remember geometry or the order of basic cell division or etymology unless they specifically went into a field that utilized this knowledge? The way that students learn is to prepare for the test that will come, and after they have put that knowledge onto paper for a grade, 99% of it is gone forever. Meaningful, lasting knowledge isn't created by learning for a grade.

So, even though high school taught me that the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, myself and many others felt a bit lost once we went into the world of college. Teaching things like study tips, how to write an effective argumentative essay for a job or college application, or even just how to do taxes are things that need to be taught in today's schools. The goal should be teaching students things they will remember, and not just for a test. So no, college won't baby you, but high school should still help to prepare for this. Something needs to change in today's education system, and awareness is just the first step.

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