Preparing for College

Who Should Go to College?

Here are some U.S. Department of Education observations about the state of American higher


A whopping 98 percent of American adults want their children to go to college, and with good reason. The benefits of a college education are profound -- greater lifetime earnings, a greater appreciation for the responsibilities of citizenship, a greater likelihood for an enriching career and life.

Do students know what they need to adequately prepare for college? This is vital because most of today's good jobs require more skills and training than a high school diploma affords. Unfortunately, the rising cost of college is one deterrent.

Attitudes are a major factor in preparing for college. A student who expects to go to college is much more likely to study hard and develop strong work habits. On the other hand, a student who thinks that college is beyond his or her reach -- whether for financial or other reasons -- is more likely to struggle in school.

"The years from 10 through 14 are a critical turning point in life's trajectory," wrote the authors of a study on adolescent development published by the Carnegie Foundation. We must do more to reach youngsters in this age range to convince them that college is not only within their grasp, but the best path to a fulfilling future.

A U.S. Department of Education study showed that most precollegiate programs for at-risk students begin in the 9th grade or later. Only 22 percent begin at the middle school level. Working with parents, local schools and colleges, the Department of Education is examining the benefits of educating students as early as the 6th grade about the opportunities available to them at the nation's colleges and universities. "How-to" courses, mentors, and high academic expectations for all students can go a long way toward getting this message across.

In the future, any American student can go to college if he or she wants to do so. That's why it is so important that parents and educators work to convince our youngsters at the earliest age possible that preparing for college requires planning, practice, and priority.

Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.