You Don't Know Jack: Preparing For College and Beyond

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: February 19, 2013

High graduation marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another, but a growing number of students aren't prepared to turn the page and move on to college or the job market. According to a 2012 ACT report on college and career readiness, only 25 percent of ACT-tested high school graduates met college readiness benchmarks in all four subjects. Scores are particularly low in Science, and experts agree that teachers and administrators have largely failed at preparing students in biology, chemistry and other science disciplines.

You're more than a statistic, though, and success doesn't depend on how well a group of researchers say you're prepared. Whether you're headed to college, trade school or a job interview, take it upon yourself to prepare for the next chapter.

Ask for Advice

You may taken school for granted or suffered from a broken system, but willing students can make up for their shortcomings with the help of trusted advisors. Rather than ignoring your weaknesses or dismissing them as unimportant, ask parents, teachers and school advisors how you can improve and reach your goals. If you dream of studying engineering at your local state school, they may point you toward a math tutor and offer tips on how to stand out to colleges that interest you most.

You don't have to pursue your dreams alone. Trust the people who care about your future to guide you.

Get the Necessary Training

Preparedness for college or the job market comes down to a solid skill set. The ability to take a test, sell a product or research a concept aren't natural characteristics, so the only way to develop necessary traits is to hustle. Got your eye on Capital Processing Network for that sales job? Practice selling the company's credit card processing services to your friends and family. Need to raise your SAT score? Get your head in the books and find a tutor when you need help.

Start Early

Experience is the best teacher, and if you're preparing for the next stage of life, starting early will make the jump easier. For college-bound students, AP classes offer the chance to study college-level material and earn credit. Not only can passing an AP exam save money, it also provides students with an early taste of college testing. Entrepreneurial students hoping to work after graduation can gain experience through summer jobs or internships. You may have to get coffee and make copies, but you'll get a feel for professional life and gain valuable references.

Keep Learning

Experts have a theory on why American academics continue to slide: students think they're doing great. According to, American students have experienced a rising self confidence over the past four decades. Along with this confidence, students are also more narcissistic than ever before, drowning themselves in self-admiration. The problem is, results are headed in the opposite direction.

It doesn't matter if you're a straight-A student or an academic dunce, overconfidence will stunt your growth and prevent you from succeeding at the next level. How you perform in college and beyond will depend on how hard you work, not your natural ability. Remember that you don't know everything. A curious spirit will deliver growth and success.

Topics: College Planning


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