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Monday, July 24, 2017

Being In Love With Grades Can Lead To A Bad Financial Decision, College

Let me ask you something: Are high schools in the U.S. college preparation environments?  Yes?  What if I told you that they're in fact NOT where teens go to become prepared to succeed in college?  High schools in America are where teens go to get "accepted" into college.  Big difference.  You see, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the "Nation's Report Card," only about one-third of high school seniors were prepared for college-level coursework in math and reading in 2015.  What this means is that 66% of high school seniors have done everything according to plan, keeping great attendance, behavior, and most importantly, grades, but still aren't college ready!

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That's a lot of unprepared kids, isn't it?  So one of the biggest lies in all of schooling also happens to be the biggest selling point of all high schools: "We offer a wide selection of college prep courses."  Unfortunately, high schools give teens a false sense of superiority or of being "special" when in fact most seniors who get accepted into a university are quite average.

Here's more perspective.  According to a USAToday report, nearly half of graduating seniors from the class of 2016 were "A" students, yet SAT scores are on a downward creep.  What's going on?  There is obviously a huge deviation between grading and what the Scholastic Aptitude Test assesses.  You already know grades are subjective measures of performance at best.  Unfortunately, teenagers fall in love with them.  Many teens live to get A's and are crushed when they get an A-.  Some have parents who'll go all the way to the school board to have their teen's A- be changed to an A to ensure Johnny gets into Stanford.

Ready for some more disappointment?  Many students attribute high marks to intelligence.  Over the course of my career as a teacher, I've heard many teens say out-loud, "I got an A in...I'm so smart!"  Yet, we know intelligence and grades have practically zero correlation.  Having what would be considered stellar grades (3.8 g.p.a and above) makes a teen at most a stellar "student."  The worst part of it is that many teens become complacent, doing the bare minimum to earn their high g.p.a.  I have to burst their bubbles.  When they say out-loud, "I love my grades," I reply, "You mean, you love the grades you're getting at this school."  I then explain to them that there are over 21,000 public and over 10,000 private, high schools in America and each one of them will have a Valedictorian.

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The best schools are the ones that offer the most Advanced Placement (A.P.) courses.  There are two benefits of taking Advanced Placement courses.  One, your teen student gets to see what they are truly made of.  If they pass the class with a B or better, and pass the A.P. subject test at the end of the year, they are probably ready for college.  Two, students who take their respective A.P. test and pass will have earned college credit on the cheap.  Just think, if your teen takes an A.P. Calculus AB test and passes, they don't have to take a quarter of calculus in college! Savings galore.

Enrolling at a 4-year college may not be the best option for certain teens and their families.  The telltale signs of a student who may be best suited for a two-year college after high school are:

1.  Great grades, but poor SAT scores
2.  Few if any A.P. courses taken
3.  Poor performance on entrance exams

Some teens who fit the bill enroll at a 4-year college anyway and are stunned when their midterm grades come out.  Some will correct and work harder, swimming, while many more will not come to terms with their shortfalls, do nothing, and sink.  Aside from a lack of money, the inability to keep up with the rigor has to be another reason for America's huge college dropout rate crisis.

In my latest book I champion falling in love with effort instead of earned grades.  I use the following example to make my case that effort is more important.  If two students in the same class both earn an A, but one does the minimal amount needed while the other works her tail off, who is winning?  The one who is learning the role of effort in life clearly will win in the end because the natural will hit an eventual plateau and not risk trying for fear of failure.

Is your student in love with his/her grades?
Are they content in earning high marks, pushing themselves only insofar as it keeps them in the top 50 of their high school ranking?

Wake them up!  Tell them they are but tiny fish in all of the earth's oceans.  Don't let their inflated egos convince you, mom or dad, of paying any amount of money for attendance at a 4-year college.  Have them prove themselves at the local Junior College first.

Thanks for reading!  
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