Properly preparing students for college is a vital step to ensure their success. As the school year closes, many high school parents find themselves wondering, ‘is my student really prepared for college?’ Well, high school is not the best time to begin considering this question. As early as middle school, parents and teachers can work to prepare their students for college.

Today, many students entering college find it necessary to take remedial classes in math, reading and writing due to their lack of skills mastery. Starting in middle school, students should aim high by taking rigorous courses in math, reading and writing to prepare them for the academic challenges that await them in college.

St. Johns River State College President Joe Pickens wants to alert younger students about the necessity of taking harder classes with the goal of not only going to college, but being college-ready. Pickens and his team are aware of the new Common Core Curriculum efforts and  hope they will reduce the need for review courses for college freshmen.

Common Core standards are a set of rigorous skills designed by educators to provide students with a competitive edge when they move on to college or directly into a career. The goal of Common Core is to elevate students to be immediately ready to enter college through rigorous coursework from kindergarten through high school graduation.

“Common Core is directed at high school curriculum, but it affects us,” Pickens said during the seminar dubbed “Core to College.”

Eventually, reading and math portions of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT will be replaced by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC Exam.

For example, instead of writing a final paper, students will be expected to incorporate keyboarding skills to type the project that they worked on with a team in a collaborative effort. Educators in 45 states, including the District of Columbia, developed and voluntarily adopted the Common Core standards. Adopted in July 2010, they will be fully implemented into public school classrooms at the start of the 2014 school year.

“It’s thinking of different ways to teach critical thinking and to go deeper,” Cassandra Brown said, Coordinator of Postsecondary Readiness for the Florida Department of Education. “With the same rules, everyone can compete on the same staircase nationally and internationally.”

What Pickens sees at the community college level is a higher level of unprepared students.

“Nationwide, nearly 60 percent of all first-year college students discover that despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not academically collegeready,” Pickens said. “We need to create understanding early. Legislation created the [FCAT] standard and kids have graduated with a diploma, but they are not necessarily ready to enter college.”

The plan is to interest younger students in higher education by visiting SJRSC campuses while still in junior high. Using corporate partnerships and grants, SJRSC recently hosted 900 Putnam County eighth graders for career and college rallies and camps that focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Walking the halls and witnessing college lectures gives pre-high school students a tangible goal to focus on as early as possible.

CONTINUE READING – From Common Core to college readiness

Sarah Wakefield Rosser is a staff writer for Clay Today in Fleming Island, Florida.


READ MORE – 7 Habits Of Successful College Freshmen