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High schools are not preparing us for college

Originally published October 1, 2010

College is supposed to be the best time of our lives, right?

So why is it that more than 80 percent of college students will feel overwhelmed during this school year?

In a Huffington Post article, David Leibow attributes this stress on students to being unprepared for college.

According to a 2009 survey by the American College Health Association, 39 percent of college students will feel hopeless during the school year, 25 percent will feel so depressed they’ll find it hard to function, 47 percent will experience overwhelming anxiety and 84 percent will feel overwhelmed by all they have to do.

Those are some pretty depressing numbers.

But if they’re correct, it’s an unfortunate reality for more than half the students on campus.

And let’s face it. How many of us haven’t pulled an all nighter and panicked about everything we had to finish or study?

But what Leibow is saying goes beyond simple stress over day-to-day assignments.

One in four college students will feel so depressed they can’t function. That’s not good.

The solutions Leibow offers to combat this overwhelmed feeling students encounter in college go beyond what students can control themselves.

He says high schools should prepare kids much more before they even set foot on a college campus, which is a good idea.

Many college-prep programs do a poor job of truly prepping kids for the rigors of a college curriculum.

On a 4.0 scale, my high school GPA was higher than four. But when I came to college I felt vastly unprepared.

As both a journalist and an English student, I consider myself to be pretty well read. But in an English class this week my professor referenced “The Canterbury Tales,” something she said we should have read in high school.

And I had no idea what she was talking about.

This is something that has happened more than once throughout my college career, and it scares me to think what other allusions may have gone over my head in my four years here.

Then I couldn’t help but wonder who else is missing an important piece of their education.

But what really can be done to combat this?

Lieibow suggests teaching students how to study in a class required for all college freshmen.

This will help with students who can’t handle their workloads once they reach campus, but what about those whose educations are lacking from the get-go?

Some colleges require all freshmen to read a certain book before starting school in the fall. Incorporating texts that will be referenced in later classes may help students who didn’t get the full scope of literary exposure in high school.

Granted, some kids may not read the books they are supposed to, but at least it will level the playing field and ensure everyone has the opportunity not to be left behind.

And keeping everyone on the same page may alleviate that overwhelmed feeling the majority of students are feeling.

But schools need to do more than that.

Although students worry more about having too much to do than things such as finances, dating or friendships, these things only compound the stresses they feel.

Schools need to do more in providing a way for students to relieve their anxieties. Although many offer free counseling to students, it needs to be marketed better so students know where to turn when they are having trouble coping.

College students need to spend more time enjoying their time in school and less time worrying about what’s going to happen if they fall behind in classes.

After all, these should be the best four years of our lives.

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