A Department of Education report, "Closing the College Participation Gap", states that when students enter high school, 91 out of 100 say that they plan to go to college. However, by the time students are 19 years old, 30 out of 100 who entered 9th grade have fallen behind or dropped out of school, and only 38 of the 70 who earned high school diplomas enroll in college.
The media are filled with reports of schools falling behind in standardized tests, and of students passing to the next grade even thought they barely know how to read or write. Part of the problem is that many schools lack adequate resources, and thus have a difficult time attracting qualified teachers and keeping up with today's more effective educational technologies. Other schools, even in affluent areas, suffer from overcrowding; this makes it difficult for children to get individualized instruction. Such a lack of adequate resources and of individualized attention may mean that, if your children need extra help in subjects where they are having difficulty, they may not get that help, and their grades may begin to slide. Adding to this are the distractions that children confront today: television, video games, internet chat rooms, friends and peer pressure. The impacts of all of these can be enormous, and may cause children to regard their studies in math, language arts, and the sciences as dreaded chores, rather than as fun and rewarding.
So how do you ensure that your children are part of that 38 percent who go to college?
Many schools are doing everything they can, within the confines of their limited resources, to maximize the potential of their students. Even so, it often happens that critical elements of math, science, or reading in 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade are not adequately covered by teachers or understood by students; by the time many students get to 9th grade, many of those questions that were not answered earlier have resulted in important gaps in understanding, making further progress in school difficult. This may have unfortunate results, leading to a reduced interest in school and to a failure to appreciate the fact that higher education can equate to the freedom to choose amongst opportunities and jobs that fit one's interests and can move one ahead in life. Outside influences may also have a negative impact, leading to apathy, tardiness, absenteeism, dropping out or drug use. Unfortunately, this downward spiral may be hard to stop; our fears and concerns grow as we think.