This 10th Grader Tells Us How High Schools Are Failing Their Students

As a 10th grade student I, and many other high schoolers, feel that high school isn't teaching us everything we need to know. Put simply, the high school experience is leaving students unprepared for college, future careers, and adult life. 

According to an article from US News and World Reports, a shocking amount of students are heading into college unprepared. The article tells us:

"With the start of the new academic year, results from last year's ACT college admissions tests have been made public, and the results are disturbing. The incoming freshman class is woefully unprepared for college. The class of 2016, as a group, failed all four subjects the test assesses: English, math, reading, and science. According to ACT, only 25% of students are proficient in all four subjects."

As a high school student, I do not feel as if I am being sufficiently prepared for the road ahead. I'm aware that a successful future is attainable, but I have no clue how to find the correct path to help me get there. My friends and I do our fair share of studying, homework, and we even manage to get the needed A's and B's, but we often wonder, what comes after?

When we graduate from college, job interviewers will not be interested in whether we got an A in 9th grade geometry, or the fact that we know the details of the Spanish Armada; they will be looking for eye-catching resumes, an enthusiastic and hard worker, and a good personality. But nowhere in the high school experience do they teach us how to show employers that we have all that and more. With regards to both college and job applications, there are specific details, things like buzz words and appropriate steps to take that increase your chances of success. We need to be taught those skills in high school, not only to help in the search for the right job or the right college, but more importantly to help us succeed in life. 

Every once in a while, our school counselors hold assemblies to show us what a college essay might look like, or what a resumé resembles, but they never give any more details than that. Counselors are a good resource, but many students do not take advantage of them if speaking with them is not mandatory.

For high schoolers with little motivation or willingness to learn this stuff on their own, or to seek out the counselors it becomes a big problem. These kids probably won’t do the research themselves, and when they don't know the options, and don't have the encouragement, they don’t even realize what they are missing out on, much less what it means for their future. 

As a motivated person, I'm desperate for more information and more access on how to be the right person for a certain job or school. I don't want to be left in the dust when colleges pick up the kids that know how to write that perfect college essay; kids with a lot of motivation who also had the right knowledge and resources to teach them how to get into their dream college. High schools need to change their curriculum to accommodate these needs. 

One example of a resource for high schoolers interested in these topics is the Khan Academy.
Khan Academy is a non-profit website that a graduate of MIT created as a tool for both high school and college students; it has multiple videos, tutorials, and explanations on whatever you could possibly be interested in, whether it be math, science, history, or even art. With a little bit of effort, schools could set up similarly efficient websites that would be great resources for students; these sites would give students a place to start when looking towards their futures.

I’d also suggest having a mandatory high school class where students are taught these practical skills. Instead of once a month advisory speeches given by counselors, our counselors could actually teach a class, at least once a week, about working on skills for the future such as college essays and resumés. This could easily be adapted into many school programs, and benefit any student that took the class.

High schools are not providing the increasingly important skills students need to help create a successful post high school career. There are changes to be made, goals to be reached, and student's lives to enhance. Our public high schools need a change, and they need to change now.