Sunday, October 12, 2008

Making Students More College-Ready and Colleges More Student-Ready

Here's an interesting discussion that I think adds to the previous post on college-readiness, or lack there of.

You can also check out the video of this discussion

Below is the transcript.


By Louis Soares | Center for American Progress
October 8, 2008

How successful is the United States' higher education system? Why aren't students leaving high school ready for post-secondary education? And how can we improve higher education and boost degree completion rates?

Louis Soares on higher education

How successful is the United States' higher education system?

We rank number one among developed countries for adults ages 55 to 64 with a college education. We rank only number seven for adults ages 25 to 34 with a college education. So something's happened in that 30 year interim. In fact, many things have happened. We've seen the age diversity change, the learning preparedness diversity change, and the number of people combining work and college are changing, as well. In fact, 40 percent of our undergraduates now attend two-year colleges. What's essentially happened is that college going has become more complex on a number of metrics. And we have a federal policy that's largely focused on access, which means making college more affordable. It's not that we don't need that. We need college to be more affordable. But we also need federal policies to take the next step and begin to focus on helping folks actually complete the degrees once they get started in post-secondary education.

Why aren't students leaving high school ready for post-secondary education?

Degree completion is an issue for all college goers, but we do face a particular challenge with the transition from high school to college. Our best data estimates are showing that only 50 percent of high school students are actually prepared to do college level work. And this level of preparedness, or lack of preparedness, is directly impacting their ability to complete college. Our best estimates on college completion show that only 49 of students who are required to take remedial courses in college actually finish their degree. And, when we dig a little deeper, we actually see greater societal challenges along racial and ethnic lines because Hispanics and African Americans are even less likely to be academically prepared for college. So we need to really focus on those students that are the least prepared to build bridges to them for college.

How can we improve higher education and boost degree completion rates?

We need to move to a federal policy that's an access-plus policy. We need to build on our affordability policies of grants and discounted loans and include investments that would make students more college-ready, and colleges more student-ready. Investments that will make students more college-ready include investing in more college preparation, both in high school, and beyond; making financial assistance more transparent so that individuals and their families can understand it more easily; and also, making college quality data much more available so folks can make good choices about the colleges that are best for them.

Investing in making colleges more student-ready involves investment in three core areas. The first is investing in instructional practices and new counseling techniques to help students be more successful and complete their degrees once they start. The second is to align the post-secondary system with secondary school and other with federally-funded training programs so that we have all folks targeting degree completion as a way to get their education. And third, we need to really take a look at frameworks for measuring if students are learning in college programs. Currently, we don't have that, and that will be critical to knowing if students are investing their money properly, and if we're investing the public's money properly.


  1. It's surprising to hear anyone peddling such a conventional solution to students' higher ed woes.

    The time has come for something much more radical than throwing federal tax funds at the problem.

    The speaker is correct in that the issue here is high school. At least that's step in the right direction. But the government's performance to solve these issues in the past has been dismal, at best.

  2. This is a great post thanks a lot for this.

    Degree Completion