High School is Not Enough

Chapter 9 – Five Twenty-First-Century Nonacademic Skills High School Students Need

Most people know that what a student learns in their classes is critical to his or her success in high school and afterward. In my career I have also found that many students are unprepared to be successful even if they have mastered all of the subjects they took in high school.  Sometimes it is their attitude. They have habits or ways of communicating  that cause people to not want to help them. Sometimes they do not know how things work. They are not able to set priorities. Sometimes they do not know how to use the money they have wisely. Or they are unable to manage a crisis that happens in their lives. Success, meaning program completion or graduating, can depend on students having the following skills in addition to their academic preparation. As importantly, a student that possesses these skills may also find he or she will be more successful in his or her life.

Skill 1: Know How to Get Back Up After Being Knocked Down

In 1980 comedian Billy Crystal wrote and performed a tribute to former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, called Fifteen Rounds. His recreation of that verse is available on YouTube, Muhammad Ali Tribute by Billy Crystal. In it he quotes the former heavyweight champ as saying, “You see, everybody in life suffers a loss. It’s the one who can overcome the loss and make a success of himself that is really doing something with his life.”

More intelligent people than I have said that life is not fair. It is also true that schools, colleges, universities, and training programs can be difficult places for students, especially those who are already struggling to fit in or whose dreams do not fit what people think they should or could be.

I know of few students who have successfully graduated from a college or training program without experiencing some kind of problem along the way. They got a grade they felt they did not deserve. They didn’t get a class at a time, day, or during the term that they needed or wanted. They didn’t find a job that paid enough for them to afford to continue their education. The transcript they had requested to be sent to another school did not arrive. They got into discipline problems. They could not afford the books they needed. Their parents did not give them the information they needed to apply for federal financial aid. They were told by their teacher that they must study more, or find a tutor, or they would fail the class. They missed their final exam. They found out that they could not participate in a special project, get into a desired program, or work with a particular professor. They needed to drop a class, but if they did, they would lose their financial aid. Their roommate hung out until all hours of the morning. Most all students run into situations that they have to figure out and take care of before they can get the degree or certificate that they came to the school to earn.

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