The Challenge of High School to College Transition

Dean Hubbard:

There is a dichotomy between the aspirations of high school students to attend college and their success once in college. Annually, over 90 percent of the nation’s 2.5 million high school graduates indicate a desire to go to college, and 72 percent of them actually enroll in some form of postsecondary education within two years after graduation. Despite such high levels of aspiration and motivation, once on campus over half of those who matriculate require remedial work. Worse yet, a staggering 41 percent never complete either a two- or four-year degree (Kirst and Venezia, From High School to College). But these data understate the problem because only 68 percent of high school freshmen complete high school on time. Thus, the other 32 percent are not in the pool from which the 90 percent number is calculated (Kuh and McCarthy “Are Students Ready for College? What Student Engagement Data Say.” Phi Delta Kappan Vol. 87 No 09). Moreover, other data show that 10 years after their freshmen year in high school, only 18 percent of students have completed a baccalaureate degree (Gorden “Accommodating Student Swirl”, Change Magazine Vol. 36 Issue 2). Together, these figures reveal a growing personal and national tragedy that challenges educators at all levels.