What is the goal of high school in the 21st century? Since a high school diploma seems no longer sufficient for even the lower level jobs, the goal of high school is to prepare students and give them the tools to pursue their passion after graduation- whatever that passion may be. The goal of high school is not simply to get the grades to get into university. Even if it is a great short term goal, students need to see the real picture and be able to set long term goals for themselves.
Getting into university is hard – staying in it is harder. Many kids are not adequately prepared for university. Around one-third of students find their studies ‘really stressful’, partly because they are not accustomed to the academic rigours of university, said James Cote, a sociology professor at the University of Western Ontario.
Easy grading in primary and secondary school and less testing is not in students’ favour, especially for those who want to pursue a university degree. With a more accurate representative of their grades, students can make better decisions for their post high school studies as well as prepare to achieve their long term goals.
According to a Persistence in Post Secondary Education in Canada report, about 14 per cent of the first year students drop out (versus 16% overall). Youth In Transition Survey (YITS) results suggested that the drop outs are due to students’ struggling to meet assignment and test deadlines, struggle with academic performance, and lack of study habits in their first year classes. Within the course of a semester majority of students see their grades fall, often dramatically, and those who used to be top high school students get hit the hardest. “The business program or engineering program that they thought they were going to pursue [is] not an option for them anymore,” said Brock University economist Felice Martinello who co-authored a study on the changes in grades between high school and first-year university.
The skills that students who plan to go into university need to master are note taking, time management, exam preparation, and exam taking skills. Students need to be prepared to take good notes while sitting in large classes with one professor speaking at the front of the lecture hall; they need to learn time management skills to keep up with the large amount of material covered in a short amount of time. Students, especially those pursuing sciences and engineering fields, need to be prepared and comfortable with having majority of their marks come from a midterm and a final exam. That’s the reality of an undergraduate program at a university and yet so few students are prepared for it.
Students who are passionate about going into university to continue their education need to train to become disciplined learners during their high school years. They need to become comfortable with being tested as a form of assessment – to see it as an opportunity to showcase their knowledge rather than as a stressful event. They need to learn to manage their anxiety and become confident test takers. More importantly, they need to train to adopt a competitive view where the only person they are competing with is themselves – to be the best they can be at any given time.
Mehrnaz Bassiri, M.Sc.
MyGradeBooster Tutoring Services