The Facts on Implementing College Readiness – A Positive Approach

Lisa Nielsen
Career Entrepreneur

I have been an educator (or a teacher) my whole life; I just did not know it right away. I spent many years in Corporate America building a career in business (finance and publishing) as a project management focused executive. During my career, I was lucky enough to begin adjunct-ing in fall 2003 and found that it changed my life. Being in front of a classroom and teaching young people is how I learn - it helped my corporate career and it helped me build my entrepreneurial pursuits, too. In the past few years, I have expanded on my teaching career to also teach as a K-12 teacher for the NYC Board of Ed as a substitute. Oh the things I have learned.

Over the last 13 years, I have heard a lot of talk around making students "college ready". The common core implementation definitely brings this talk into action with developing this idea of lessons and focus that makes students "thinkers" and therefore "ready for college".

I know that for most of us from my generation (GENX), when we went to college, we were the first in our families' to do so. I think this made us feel more autonomous and focused while also being unsure because no one was telling us "do this" "do that". For children today, whose parents are high performing and went to college and have successful careers, it really makes it harder for the kids to compete because they have instead of the autonomy we did their parents telling them to "do this" "do that".

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Instead of adventurous and focused, I see students who are kind of stagnated and the more their parents, teachers and guidance counselors know and try to teach them, the less they absorb or make actionable.

Students need to know what skills they need for the future and how to become successful through lifelong learning. One of the most important lessons any student could be taught to be "college ready" today is to put blinders on and build their skills and talents and share them without comparing themselves to others.

I always see a difference between the students who just naturally "get" it - they just are involved, are focused and are college ready due to their internal motivation. The ones who are not college ready almost feel unable to start because they feel they cannot "catch up". The reality is that each student has the ability to be college ready (or career ready for those who truly are not meant for college) and the best way to do this is to focus on what makes the student "tick" and how that can be parlayed into passion and activities that can help them think and become ready to continue to learn for life.

Lisa Nielsen