High school and college are two extremely different places. They may as well be in different worlds. However, most high schools state their overall goal is to “prepare students for their next step.” Not that anyone who attended school haven’t seen it before. In elementary school it was to prepare students for fifth grade. Next, fifth grade was the awkward year when kids couldn’t say they were an elementary school kid or a middle school teenager, and the whole idea was to get everyone ready for middle school. Once children were in middle school, it was all for high school, and then it brings the process right to high school to college. However, high schools don’t do a good job of making sure kids can take the big step. Looking at 5 different types of high schools and compared them to the normal college experience, and they are very different and high school is not at all a preparation step for college and beyond.
A major thing about changing from kid to adult is independence. Adults live on their own, have a job, maybe a family. Independence is a big theme in college, too. Those teenagers are now officially adults and most of the time they are living away from home. Part of the independence theme is that same independent living, maybe in a dorm with a roommate or some other person. High schools are almost always set up as commuting schools and students attend the school you live close to. In public school, Catholic school, and charter schools, it’s automatically a live-at-home setting. At one particular boarding school, Walnut Hills, they have a 10:00 curfew. Living at home is not a bad thing, but high schools should give a way to prepare kids for this independence that not many are really prepared for when they go off to college. Independent living is a very large step, and high schools never qualify their graduates to move on to that part of their education.
Living away from parents is not the only part of independence that high schools do not give students a good understanding of for when they move off to college. Another thing that they need to do a better job of is working with teenagers in choosing their paths, and specifically in scheduling. Every high school has a set schedule, and people are pushed into classes at a certain time and place. For example, Walnut Hills Boarding School has an X-block schedule, with many short classes a day, every day of the week. Morristown High School has an A-day/B-day schedule, where there are 4 classes a day that switch off. Morris Catholic High School has an 8 day rotating schedule. While all of these schedules are efficient, they do not prepare these teenagers for the fact that they will have to make their own choices and set up their own schedule. With a state college, the students get to set their own schedule and do not have many classes in a day. At Rutgers University, people can even make their own schedule online. This kind of independence does not exist at high schools, and it should.
There are good parts to every high school that accomplish the goal of sending students to college ready to go and they can be combined to make a truly excellent high school that really reaches new heights in education. Just two positive qualities from the 5 different types of high schools used in this paper combined into one high school, Independence High School (IHS), would be a much better way to prepare high school students for college. There is boarding and commuting to IHS. There also online classes available. There are internships and college scholarships offered and clubs and teams are all based on student interest. College recruiters visit the campus and there is a very wide selection of elective options with a write it yourself schedule, based on when certain teachers have classes. There is school spirit at IHS with a school store to prove it. There is a post grad year available for students who want to have better grades or do more in their high school experience. And finally, IHS is a school of academic excellence with a classical education and has finals and midterms. There are many elements from all different types of schools. This high school would prepare students for college more than any other high school that currently exists.
In conclusion, high schools today are not doing a good job of the ultimate goal, preparing students for the next step in their life. The real problem is the level of independence that is being given to teenagers when they go through high school. High school students, teachers, and parents need a high school that gives high schoolers an all-access pass to the real world as independent people.