As high school students today look at the job market and the economy, more and more are realizing that having a college degree is becoming essential to finding a job and imperative for a professional career. Many of them work extremely hard in the hopes of obtaining not only acceptance letters but also scholarships from the colleges of their dreams. They fill their time with Advanced Placement classes, athletics and service leadership programs, all so that they will have a good chance to achieve the kind of life they want for themselves.
But what if participating in all these extra activities in high school doesnâÄôt actually prepare you well for college?
TodayâÄôs college freshmen must adjust to a new environment and also develop a new frame of mind in order to seriously ask themselves âÄî perhaps for the first time âÄî what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
High school may prepare students with time management and organizational skills that they will undoubtedly need in college, but no AP course exists in career planning or exploration; how can students be expected to be on top of their studies and graduate in four years if they come to college without a clue of what they want to do?
And even if they have an inkling, how can they be sure their interests at age 17, 18 or 19 wonâÄôt change as soon as they step foot in their first major-related classroom? The University of Minnesota has virtually limitless fields of study; it can be stressful to figure out exactly where oneâÄôs interests lie. Though seminars are offered in major exploration and our University widely advertises its career planning center, undecided students must still compete in a race against time. The longer they have an undeclared major, the less likely they are to graduate in four years, meaning paying more in tuition now and more debt after school.
As the Minnesota Daily reported on Monday, increasing numbers of college freshmen are coming in with more AP credits. Most students see this as beneficial; every credit they earn in high school is one less they have to pay tuition for in college. But getting out of required general education courses is not always a positive âÄî AP classes are nothing like their college counterparts in terms of learning environment, pace or teaching style. The AP English exams might teach you to think critically about literature, but they probably wonâÄôt inspire you to become a writer. Advanced Placement classes prepare you for a test, but they donâÄôt foster development or self-expression the same way the professor of your freshmen writing class is able to.
The reputation our school has for the sciences is another feature that makes our college experience unique; we attend one of the largest and best research universities in the country. Even if itâÄôs not required for our major, why wouldnâÄôt we take advantage of the science labs available to us? It seems like a waste to complete an entire undergraduate career here without finding out what itâÄôs like to do work in a lab setting.
The pressure to graduate in four years is not helping students be motivated; itâÄôs stressing them out. ItâÄôs putting pressure on students to start a career track before they explore their interests. In many cases they enter college already on a career path and miss out on the opportunity to explore altogether.
High school and college are not just preparation for a specific vocation; they are preparation for life and should help students find their inspiration. Credit can be exchanged for content, but there is no replacement for the educational experience that college classes can provide.