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Preparing Students For Life After High School?

Recent U.S. News & World Report statistics show that approximately 33% of first-year college students will not make it back for their sophomore year. That means that 1 in 3 college freshman dropout at some point during or after their first year. This figure should be as startling as it is sad. In the era of “college & career readiness”, where more students are academically prepared for college than ever before, why are so many unsuccessful?

Dr. Tim Elmore, youth leadership expert and a world-renowned authority on Generations Y & Z, discusses the blind spots we as parents and educators often have when it comes to this emerging generation. We criticize their unwillingness to take risks, but then remove playground equipment, talk softly and provide safe spaces in an effort to create an anxiety free life. We talk about developing grit, then attempt to remove all semblance of even the tiniest risks from their lives. In doing so we have nurtured a generation that overgeneralizes, catastrophizes and lets their feelings guide their interpretation of reality. Elmore candidly points out that we have produced the most risk-averse population of kids to date.

This inability or unwillingness to take risks has a direct and profound impact on how students experience their first foray into adulthood. It should not surprise us that they may shrink away from the first signs of adversity and immediately look to adult authority to ensure they feel safe. An inability to navigate even low stakes risk, coupled with limited self-awareness, self-regulation and communication skills, have put even the most academically gifted students at a disadvantage as they enter college. Is it any wonder that anxiety and depression rates sky-rocket as these students arrive on college campuses?

As parents we cannot afford to overlook the tremendous need for emotional growth in our children, even as they flourish academically. Ensuring that our high school students understand the power of eye contact, as well as AP Calculus, is more important than ever. Coaching our kids on how to be smarter with feelings - more aware, more intentional and more purposeful as they enter their college years, can make the difference between them being successful or becoming another statistic (33%).

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