This is probably one of the biggest clichés that I hear from parents regarding how well their children are learning at the school I work at. There are so many factors at play here that blaming high school seems like just a cop out. Factors such as the following:

  1. Contact time (about 4.5 times the number of minutes in HS compared to college)

  2. Most courses involve students taking a course for an entire school year vs. the semesters/trimesters at a college

  3. Class sizes in colleges can involve packing students in lecture halls of hundreds of students with little room for collaboration with other students

  4. Teachers that know best practices better in HS compared to college (lecture and direct instruction vs. modern teaching methods).

  5. Vested interest in students at the HS level compared to many college professors that never really know their students

  6. Students all of a sudden living on their own for the first time upon entering college and the negative consequences for some students if they lack the habits or maturity needed to succeed on their own

  7. Students working to afford expensive college

  8. Support systems at the high school with lifelong friends, family, previous teachers that students have had, etc. not as accessible at a college

Colleges should step up to be more like high schools rather than blaming high schools for not preparing students for college. Being "thrown in the deep end" like some students are when they first go to college, seems more to blame than high school teachers not preparing their students.

Rather than blaming HS, we should be asking how college is prepared to help students succeed. Certainly, mimicking what college does at the high school level is not the answer. I do not know many high school students that would succeed if we taught them like college professors taught.

Am I missing any other factors of why a student might not do well in college despite their high school experience? I would love to hear the thoughts of others.

I say all of this as a high school teacher myself, but also an adjunct professor at a community college.

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