It is around the time of year that high school seniors are starting to make their decisions on where to attend college in the fall. Prospective students are taking tours of the California Lutheran University campus, eager to potentially find a home at Cal Lutheran.
Although most undergraduate students can relate to how these high school seniors are feeling, there are some obstacles that may not have been a reality to current students at the university level.
In the last couple of years there has been a decrease in the reading and writing level of new incoming students for universities.
With high school curriculum and university admission standards not truly changing while we are seeing this lack of skill from incoming students, it is important to look into reasons that this may be happening.
High schools from all around the country are going to teach their curriculum somewhat differently. For example, a student that went to high school in Beverly Hills, California is going to be differently prepared for higher education than a student coming from Brooklyn, New York.
Beth Brennan PH.D, the Associate Dean and Associate professor of Special Education from Cal Lutheran’s Graduate School of Education said she believes in the readiness of a student relying on their high school experience.
“Much of readiness rests on the quality of the student’s prior educational experience rather than just ability. Literacy opportunities exist across the curriculum in high school coursework but the range of opportunity for students varies considerably,” Brennan said in an email interview.
For Cal Lutheran specifically as a university, there are a couple of different aspects that the admissions office looks for when offering admission to incoming freshmen. Admissions Director Michael Elgarico explained that the main requirements at Cal Lutheran are to have had four years of an English class in high school, an essay that is submitted and SAT or ACT scores are evaluated. Admitted Cal Lutheran students usually score above a 500 in the reading and writing section of those standardized tests, which are above the national average in students.
With university standards set so high the pressure for high school students to preform well is standard. There are of course some obstacles that may get in the way of a students success. Technology is advancing and students are becoming more and more attached to the mini computers that linger in their pockets.
Cal Lutheran alumni and 12th grade high school English teacher Kari Lev suggests that technology can be compared to a love hate relationship with students.
“On one side of the spectrum, it has provided them with a wealth of knowledge that is readily and easily available to them at a moment’s notice. It does encourage reading and information synthesis on a daily basis. However, it has also proven to be a serious distraction for society in general,” said Lev.
The distraction of technology has the ability to take overwhelm and take over a students mind and concentration.
“This obsessive nature interrupts class time and their focus and devotion to the task at hand. This overwhelming need also affects their ability to communicate in a classroom,” Lev said.
Learning to live and adjust to the easily accessible technology is a hurdle that students must get over in order to be prepared to university level classes.
With that being said there are many factors that may lead a student to feel underprepared when they arrive at a university. The skill set is different around the country and there are different distractions available to students not then there were even just a few years ago.
Regardless of the decline we are nationally seeing in students ability in the reading and writing departments, Elgarico seems very optimistic in the success of students at Cal Lutheran.
“We are fortunate to be a university that can really work hand in hand with the students and do well for the majority of them. Sometimes it is not always transmitted in the numbers, it could be something very different that we see in the application,” Elgarico said.
Published March 11, 2015