Geoff Johnson: The transition from high school to college is not easy


This is the time of year when thousands of enthusiastic teens embark on their post-secondary experience and discover all that this next stage of their education will require.

While almost 90 percent of grade 12 students say they intend to take some post-secondary education, we know that actual rates of participation in post-high school education are lower.

For example, while about 55% of grade 12 students (and their parents) will say getting a college degree is the next step, only about 17% of Canadians aged 18 to 24 are enrolled on time. full in a university at one time.

This transition from high school to university can present unique and significant challenges academically, socially and personally.

Obtaining a high school diploma and entering one of Canada’s universities (or colleges or institutes of technology) can be a difficult transition for many students, even for those who have done well in their courses. 12th grade.

Suppose the issues with transitioning from high school apply equally to all forms of post-secondary education, but for the sake of brevity I’ll use the transition to college as the primary example for this column.

The first and perhaps most important step in this transition is for everyone, including parents, especially parents, to understand that it is normal for children in their first year in a post-secondary school of any kind. either encounter obstacles and difficulties that prevent them from leaving primary school. in high school just did not show up.

Therefore, the transition period from high school to college can last for weeks or even months, even for the best prepared children.

Even at that, it’s safe to assume that things, both academically and socially, won’t work out exactly as originally envisioned.

The most meticulous planning of accommodation, program choice, course selection, and adaptation to a new academic and social environment requires taking the time to adjust expectations and then deal with the development of new (and equally difficult) expectations if necessary.

This, almost inevitably, involves some flexibility to tweak what was originally thought to be a comfortable daily class and activity schedule while learning to deal with the kind of stress that had not yet been experienced, even on the toughest days in high school.

It’s all part of the experience of the freshman struggling to figure out how to navigate this new and unfamiliar learning and social landscape.

Experiencing the new school and often living away from home also involves feeling comfortable with the kind of personal decisions that have never been part of the high school landscape.

This, in turn, will involve taking responsibility for understanding which periods of study are the most productive and when it is just best to pack your bags for now and go for a long exploration of the campus, or even from the new town or village in which the university is located.

Then there is relearning to read.

Post-secondary education, no matter what program or courses you choose, will involve reading – a lot of reading and sometimes re-reading of previously read texts and passages.

A new topic will almost certainly involve unfamiliar words and a complicated sentence and paragraph structure often written by subject or subject matter specialists, not writing specialists.

Endless patience and persistence is required to pursue and understand new ideas. It is at this stage that the assistance of an educational advisor is essential.

Indeed, whatever the study program, content or textbook, the first year student will be introduced to unknown or abstract concepts not encountered in the texts assigned to the high school.

This uncertainty necessitates setting aside the automatic response “this doesn’t make sense” and “I’m not ready for this – I’m irrelevant” in favor of “this must make sense in some way. ‘another or it wouldn’t be part of the course – my job is to find that meaning or that meaning.

Again, seek an advisor. It’s essential. Every university offers a counseling program, but sometimes freshmen are reluctant to seek this help for fear of being identified as potential failures.

Some coursework may include detailed technical material, including complicated instructions, abstract principles, or materials with which the student has little or no experience.

This can be frustrating, even discouraging for the student who, until this stage of his pedagogical progression, has never had difficulty decoding the thought behind the content of the course.

But as Clark Kerr, the 12th president of the University of California, once described the university experience: “The university is not committed to making ideas safe for students. He is committed to making students safe for ideas.

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Geoff Johnson is a former superintendent of schools.

© Colonist of the time of copyright


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