Preparing Students for College and a Career

What do you think of when you hear that a student is college and career ready? You probably think that they did really well on their SAT’s, have a GPA at or above a 3.8, or that they are involved in many diverse extracurricular activities that make their college applications look amazing. However, even with these attributes, a student still might not be ready for college or a career. In fact, many statistics show that most students in the United States are not prepared for life after high school (Kamenetz).

Based off of the Children’s Defense Fund’s, “The State of America’s Children,” 60 percent of 4th and 8th grade public school students cannot read or compute at grade level (Children's Defense Fund). Additionally, only about a third of high school students are prepared for the level of reading and math that is expected in college (Camera). Attributes like these contribute to the problem of students dropping out of high school, which as of 2012 was approximately 4,000 students a day or 750,000 a year (Alliance for Excellent Education). Even if students make it out of high school, the poor preparation that they received is more likely to lead to poor performance in college (Butrymowicz, Farmer). Since a college education is now essential for securing a well paying job, it is important to change the way schools prepare students in order to positively affect their futures (Alliance for Excellent Education).

While it may seem that dropout rates have no affect on you or me, they actually do. Students who drop out of school are more likely to have long periods of unemployment, use government assistance, and spend time in the prison system, meaning that taxpayer dollars go directly towards supporting them (Alliance for Excellent Education). This ends up costing Americans billions in dollars (Children's Defense Fund). Therefore, whether you care about the next generations future or not, you should at least be concerned that your money is going towards something that is absolutely preventable.

Regardless of whether you have children, there are many ways to aid in the preparation of students for life after high school. This could be simply educating yourself on the issue, talking to your community about the importance of educational programs, or contacting you local, state, or national leaders about the education system (The Afterschool Alliance). Additionally, volunteering at your local school is one of the best ways to give towards this issue. As helpful as donations are to after school programs, volunteers are essential in order to keep programs running smoothly.

Mentoring students in an afterschool program can be rewarding for both you and the students you help. Through my experience volunteering for the Potsdam Middle School Mentoring Program, I came to understand how important afterschool programs are for students in terms of their academic and social growth. The teachers and mentors are able to make sure that the students stay on track, while also creating a fun atmosphere for them to spend their afternoons. Providing programs like this ensures that students get the support they need in order to advance in their education and make them better prepared for the future.

It is undeniable that the United States education system is not going to change over night. In fact, based off of the current administration it may seem harder to get education reform that helps students become better prepared for life after high school. However, bringing awareness to the issue, pushing for our beliefs, and advocating for our children is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, investing in our education system benefits everyone.



"Afterschool Action Booklet." The Afterschool Alliance (n.d.):

Butrymowicz, Sarah. "Most Colleges Enroll Students who aren't Prepared for Higher Education." PBS Newshour. PBS, n.d. Web. <

Camera, Lauren. "High School Seniors aren't College-Ready." US News and World Report, n.d. Web. <

"College and Career-Ready Standards." Alliance for Excellent Education, n.d. Web. <>.

Farmer, Blake. "Tenessee says a Third of its High School Graduates didn’t meet Requirements." NPR ED. NPR, n.d. Web. <

Kamenetz, Anya. "Most High School Seniors aren't College or Career Ready Says Nations Report Card." NPRED. NPR, 27 Apr. 2016. Web. <

"Overview of the State of America's Children 2014." Children's Defense Fund (2014):

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The path to college and a career