Bridging the gap
A holistic development model is needed at the school level to smoothen the transition to college. Schools focus on academic proficiency and the curriculum and pedagogy are designed to get the students to score good grades.
Students transitioning to college are often underprepared for the demands and find it difficult to cope. To make this transition smooth, they must be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. This requires policymakers and educators to address the gaps between school and college education, as the former’s outcome does not meet the latter’s expectations.
Schools focus on academic proficiency and the curriculum and pedagogy are designed to get students to score good grades. Counselling students about possible career pathways is sidelined. At the end of high school, students may have the grades but unaware of what to study in university. Thus, they enroll in courses unaligned with their interests and skills, which negatively impact their futures. What is required is a more holistic approach, which can be achieved by the following ways:
Focus on the fundamentals: A strong base that provides students with knowledge and skills will help them identify their areas of interest and passion, build their profiles, and chalk out a path to excel in college and professional careers.
Develop life skills: Preparation for college and career success requires more than exposure to a dynamic curriculum. Life skills can be developed through socialisation and learning values and attitudes through interactions with others. Middle-school is a perfect place to incorporate and develop soft skills such as communication, leadership, creative thinking, and collaboration, among others.
Introduce research in high school: Apart from marks and grades, qualitative opportunities like research projects have become popular for students applying to colleges abroad. Research is a great way to explore areas of interest more deeply and develop academic passions in all fields. Students who have been a part of research programmes can use their projects to showcase their passion and the depth of their abilities.
Internship programmes: This allows students to explore their interests and various career fields before taking the leap and committing to a specific programme. The focus should also be on transferable skills. Internships are an excellent way for students to gain work experience, learn about professional opportunities, and network with like-minded peers.
Vocational training: Skill-based training can prepare students better for their future career options; whether it is their enrollment in colleges/universities or decision to join the corporate world.
To help students make a smooth transition from school to college, there is a need to develop a model that takes a multifaceted approach and considers all the essential aspects of education, including its social, economic, and cultural tenets.
(The author is a retired Principal and an Educational Columnist)