Is High School the New College?

by | Dec 13, 2014 | Schools & Education

A bi-weekly column on Fredericksburg.Today by Elizabeth Colon, Above Grade Level Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia

I recently spoke with a mom whose daughter is suffering from depression as a result of the enormous amount of pressure and work placed on her by her teachers at school. She is a freshman in high school.

While depression amongst my students is not common, I do often hear about the enormous workloads that overwhelm them: 18 page argumentative essays, detailed book analysis, lecture based classes, SOLS and final exams.

I hear from my students that there are a larger number of high school teachers running their classrooms like college level courses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to this. I think our kids need to be ready for the lecture based, independent learning that college brings. However, I will say that a large number of our students have not been equipped with the study skills to succeed in the “new college.”

Here are a few study skills to help cope with the pressure.
Flush Out Class Notes
Because teachers are doing a lot of lecturing and our students are doing a lot or writing, they are not adequately hearing the message or how the topics connect. Tell your student to use their book (I know they hate reading) to make sense of their notes. For example, your student wrote:

He/She intended to go back and draw the arrows but the lecture moved too quickly and now they are looking at the diagram and thinking, “What were we talking about?”

Pull out the book and flush out the notes!




Create a Study Group
These are commonly used among college students.  Why not implement them in high school? Often explaining a concept to someone else or working through a problem as a group can lead to better understanding. Encourage your student to call a few of their classmates over. Provide some brain friendly snacks and encourage them to talk it out.
Practice Tests
Encourage your student to work with the study group on developing a practice test. Each person can create five questions (one person is assigned to a unit or two). Compile them into a list and then work on it individually. Once the group is done with the test, review the results and grade them. Creating the questions, developing multiple choice answers and reviewing those questions will help ensure a solid understanding of the material.
Use Prior Tests to Study for the Final
Chances are, if it was important enough to be on the unit test, it is important enough to be on the final. Encourage your student to use their unit tests as a baseline for studying. Have them redo problems them missed, define concepts they didn’t understand and reread the answers they got right.
Your student might think that it is easier to cram than it is to pick up their notes and read them over once a day. While it may be “easier,” studies show that we remember more when we take it in in small doses over long periods of time. The best way for your student to prepare for their final is for them to pick up those unit tests 1x/day over the course of several weeks, rather than cramming the night before the final.
Consider Hiring a Tutor
We at Above Grade Level are more than willing to help support whatever needs you have.

Related Article:
Help Your Kids Tackle ‘Multiplication Math Blues’
This article is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Fredericksburg.Today.

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