College bound

By Stephanie Glaittle

Fewer than half of Utah’s high school graduates are prepared for the transition to and demands of college classes, according to a recent study released by the ACT, which tracked the scores of its tests nationwide.

The 2005 scores show 30 percent of high school seniors are prepared for college-level science courses, and fewer than half are prepared for university math classes.

In Utah, the average ACT composite score is 21. The highest possible score is 36.

In 2005, a different survey of 1,500 college instructors and recent high school graduates revealed that an estimated 42 percent of students come to college unprepared, and 39 percent of students admitted they were not ready for college coursework, said Indiana University researchers Jonathan Plucker and John Houser.

This decrease in college preparedness is not necessarily caused by a lack of student effort, but rather because high schools fail to give students the necessary skills. The number of students enrolling in college has increased by more than 15 percent in the past decade, said Plucker and Houser.

However, undergraduate studies assistant professor and LEAP program director Carolyn Bliss says these statistics are misleading.

“You can’t make generalizations about a whole group of students,” Bliss said. “The level of preparedness depends on the individual student and the effort they put in during high school.”

At the U, many students successfully go from high school to college, and that is reflected in the high level of freshmen who stay at the U, Bliss said.

“Most of the high schools in Utah do a good job of preparing students, and I’ve seen that most students in college classes are prepared to be there.”

The transition from high school to college isn’t hard if you are prepared to make that leap, said Arielle Elwood, an undeclared freshman.

“Students who struggle with the transition are those that think college will be just like high school, and it’s definitely not,” Elwood said. “There is a completely different atmosphere in college, but I think most students adjust and are prepared for it.”