Out of the Notebook and into the blog: College is Competitive And Common Core can Help

Thursday, April 16, 2015

College is Competitive And Common Core can Help

Photo by myself, more at Reyna Meinhardt Photography 

College is, and needs to be competitive.  

Things I've learned as a student at the University of St. Thomas, a competitive private college:

1) You must have a strong tool kit of critical thinking skills

2) Real life "soft skills" are crucial. 
3) A common core knowledge in maths and sciences is critical to success.
4) Classes aren't just about memorizing and getting the right answers every time.  
5) Classes are more about applying skills to real life situations, critical thinking, analyzing, and learning how to work with other people. 
6) Being competitive and competent in college is crucial to getting a great job after college.

The kids that enter college without these skills struggle, their grades suffer resulting in a low GPA that is hard to get back up, they end up having to pay more to re-take classes, and often drop out. 

Photo by Joy Prouty 

I was homeschooled and in Minnesota, a homeschooler isn't required to take the yearly  success competitive required exams.  One of the big critiques of these exams for parents was that teachers were teaching just so their students would get good grades on the exams - memorize, memorize, memorize.  My mom worked hard to not teach my brother and I in a memorization only way, but rather in a life skill gaining, tool box, curiosity filled style.  As a result, I feel that I was actually more prepared than my peers in college and I am excited that high school curriculum is making a change in this direction.  

I can vouch that memoriziation isn't going to help in real life - it's about the soft and critical thinking skills.  The new common core assessments are  replacing the previous end of year assessments (!!!) and are great because they ask students to demonstrate and apply what they know, instead of just picking the right answer from a multiple-choice question. (according to Be a Learning Hero)

Photo By myself, more at Reyna Meinhardt Photography

The new common core standards are setting higher standards and using better tests to see if students are reaching the goals needed to put students on a path to success.  It is exciting that we have already seen resulting in improved student performance!  Be a Learning Hero states that "In Kentucky, the first state to begin using the Common Core State Standards, the percentage of high school graduates ready for college and careers has increased from 34 percent to 62 percent in four years."  

Change is hard and it takes time!  Adjusting to new standards, new tests, new homework, etc. is a process, but it's what's best for students.  Be a Learning Hero, partnered with national PTA, is an amazing resource available to parents.  They have a bucket full of wonderful videos to watch that fill you in on the common core and answer questions that you likely have.  They also have some great apps that are approved by teachers and help supplement the common core!  A great tool to get your child ready for next fall.  There is also a homework help section which is a great tool to take advantage of.  

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