The Myth of the College Ready Student

TalkingEDUSmall.jpgByron P. White writing for Inside Higher Ed looks at why it’s time “educational institutions must abandon a paradigm that allow them to deflect accountability and embrace the burden of being student ready.”

The paradigm in question is what White refers to as the long-held belief that students are responsible for being “college ready” when they arrive freshman year.  In other words, students succeed or fail based on their own abilities. “You’re either college ready or you’re not…And if you’re not, don’t blame us.” This institutionalized deflection of accountability has resulted in high dropout rates often made up of those “less economically privileged and more likely to be a racial or ethnic minority.”If we’re ever going to match the kind of completion rates that other nations currently meet, White maintains, this attitude must be replaced by “fully embracing the burden of being (a) student-ready institution”. In fact, White believes, this particular goal which President Obama hoped to hit by 2020 is “at best” a decade away.

What does it mean for a school to be “student ready? It means no longer accepting “the conventional wisdom that minority, low-income and first-generation students disproportionately underperform other students because they are the unfortunate casualties of inadequate systems.” Instead, to succeed, colleges and universities must assist students in overcoming the challenges of being first generation students, poverty, or a poor K-12 education. White maintains that this is not simply an altruistic position, but one that is supported by sweeping demographic changes, new performance based state funding formulas and the real need to fill jobs in the private sector.

How will schools meet this new challenge? Does this mean eliminating thresholds to entry?

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