Faculty in Brockton High School in Massachusetts used to be ashamed of their school’s dismal performance on not only state tests, but in graduating its students. Sam Dillon of the New York Times in his article shares statistics that illustrate the school’s disastrous condition: in the year 2000, one in three students would drop out and only a quarter would pass standardized exams. Many would point to a school with a population of over 4,000 was an exemplar of what has become a maxim in the education world: the smaller the better.
But then, a number of Brockton’s teachers decided they’d had enough. They organized comprehensive reform, requiring all teachers to attend training and meetings, to incorporate writing and reading skills in all their curricula (including physical education!
The result? Over the last ten years, Brockton has not only gotten itself out of the academic hole, but its students’ test scores are now exceeding that of 90% of Massachusetts’ schools! For a student population comprised mostly of minorities and students of low economic status, teachers have not only revised their curricula, but they have also changed the way they talked to students, motivating them, and speaking to them about college as a legitimate possibility, not a fanciful dream. What school faculty can learn from this case study is that, no matter what the school size, tenacity, creativity, and handwork on behalf of a dedicated faculty can make all the difference.
One thing many parents either overlook or fail to talk to their college-bound children about is safety at college. In particular, Paul Sullivan of The New York Times, notes how loathe parents are, as well as college students are, to address this issue of insurance for college life. There’s property and identify theft–and liability cases…Sullvan goes over the things parents and their kids should consider and offers some pointers on taking the proper measures. Talking about insurance can be boring or scary, whether you’re thinking about all the technicalities of insurance or what might happen to you or your child in college, but Sullivan keeps his article practical and easy to follow.
In the past, I’ve provided a list of the most affordable quality colleges and even the schools with the highest drop-out rates, but one other factors to keep in mind when college-hunting is the look of the campus–and your new home if you’ll be moving. In this Yahoo News article, Forbes interviews a panel of architects to cobble together a list of the world’s most beautiful college campuses. College faculty take note: architects say the key to preserving a school’s character and aesthetics is by “taking in its surroundings instead of alienating them” as the school expands for increasing numbers of students. Both unknown colleges such as Kenyon University, the one pictured here, and renowned schools such as Oxford University, have made this diverse list. Yahoo lists the top five, but you can find the full list here.
An increasing number of community colleges around the country are receiving federal grants to prepare students for green jobs in energy management. The demand for these jobs is so high, these schools are swiftly expanding their current programs, and are accelerating their programs so students can enter the rapidly growing sector faster. Not many schools offer four-year degrees in this field, but the job sector for green jobs is expected to grow four fold in the next ten years! An increasing number of people who have worked in computers and other technological industries are going back to school and entering sustainable energy management programs as our economy relies more and more on alternative and sustainable energy. Learn more here about the programs and the growing sector.
I’ve talked about ways to make the most out of your college experience and develop the skills you need to get a job in previous posts, but I didn’t talk about specific courses you can take to prepare for the future. In his article, Gregory Mankiw, Harvard professor and New York Times columnist, lists the subjects all college students should take at least one course in to prepare for a future in our current economic climate. I might have what most people would consider an impractical major (Creative Writing), but I have taken courses in all of the disciplines he lists. In fact, such courses can mean the difference between being able to balance your budget and going bankrupt. Probably the only course I would add to that list is Critical Thinking–statistics is a good start at being able to parse out the truth value of data claims, but as for articles and rhetoric, you’re going to need to know a fallacy when you see one.
Education.com, a comprehensive resource for parents students including academic articles, activities, games, and advice, published an article about Sean Covey’s book 7 Habits for Highly Effective Teens. The book helps modern teens navigate their way through the challenges of adolescence and high school and develop a roadmap to success. When I read this book as a teenager, I found that these habits proved invaluable to me, empowering me to make the most out of my high school education, organize my life, optimize my relationships, and smoothly transition to adulthood with confidence and sanity.
In a previous post, I emphasized the importance of developing the skills you need to get a job while you’re at college. I spoke as if college students are all young, inexperienced people about to enter the work force. But what Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times has found is that an increasing number of workers in their 30′s and 40′s are returning to school to obtain skills to add to their resumes, enter new fields that are more lucrative in this economic downturn, and to move up in their current career situation. The current reality is that your education doesn’t necessarily end in your early 20′s–in fact, more and more businesses are offering courses to their employees. Learn here about some of today’s most lucrative industries and how you can continue to expand your skill set throughout your career.
The ACT has found that taking the required courses in high school does not ensure that you will have the skill set you need to succeed in college. According to their recent news release based on this year’s test scores, although progress has been made (the number of students who meet ACT’s readiness requirements increased by 1% since last year, which experts find encouraging) nearly half of all test takers either meet none of the ACT’s readiness benchmarks for college or only one of them. The benchmarks are based on grades students actually get in college and indicate the likelihood a tested high school student will get a good or bad grade in college based on their performance. From this data, the ACT has concluded that the core high school classes are often not rigorous enough to prepare students for the challenges of college. Read more…
Nowadays, students aren’t just looking for a prestigious school or a conveniently located school, but more and more of us want our schools to be green. The Sierra Club sent out a survey to 900 schools around the country, but only 162 responded. Fortunately, you can get an idea of some of the greenest or “coolest” schools and some of what Sierra Club calls “questionable colleges.” College News features the top ten greenest schools and a brief blurb about the survey. You can find the Sierra Club’s break down of all 162 schools, the most improved schools, and more about how they ranked them here.
On a side note, young people who will determine the future and faculty who will guide them to do so should be working to make our educational institutions greener. You can find out tips on how to make your next upcoming commencement green here.