April 4, 2016
College Readiness
Did you know that 40 percent of Texas high-schoolers whose grade-point averages mark them as A students end up taking remedial courses when they get to college?
Why the College Readiness Definition Needs to be Redefined Again

‍Recently, the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s editorial board declared, “College Readiness Standards Need to be Revised.” Why? Raymund Paredes, the Texas commissioner for higher education, had just told the State Senate that 40 percent of Texas high-schoolers whose grade-point averages mark them as A students end up taking remedial courses when they get to college.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune recently ran an article entitled, “District 214 leader launches national effort to redefine ‘college ready,’” which reported that Township High School District 214 Supt. David Schuler, who serves as the president of a school superintendents association, is launching a national initiative called “Redefining Ready!” that he hopes will transform the way schools across the U.S. measure their students' readiness for college and careers.

And a few months ago, Jamie Merisotis, the president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, wrote a guest opinion piece for The Boston Globe entitled, “Redefine what ‘college’ means.” He wrote, “More than two-thirds of jobs will require postsecondary education by 2020, yet only 40 percent of Americans have at least an associate degree. Addressing this gap requires a paradigm shift in how we think about college.”

So, why does it seem that the college readiness definition developed eight years ago needs to be redefined yet again?

The Advocate of Affordable College believes the answer lies in in a series of videos that date back to June 2007. The first one, entitled, “Did You Know 2.0,” was originally created by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and XPLANE. It was shown at the Shift 2008 Conference, hosted by the Willow Creek Association.


Among other things, this video pointed out there were 1.3 million college graduates in the United States, 3.1 million in India, and 3.3 million in China – back in 2006! It also said, “Many of today’s college majors didn’t exist 10 years ago.” And it added, “We are currently preparing students for jobs and technologies that don’t yet exist … in order to solve problems that we don’t even known know? are problems yet.”

A new version of the video, entitled, “Shift Happens: Education 3.0,” was published in April 2009. This revised edition answers the question, "What are we doing about the shift?"


Among other things, this video said, “The 25% of India’s population with the highest IQs … is greater than the total population of the United States. Translation: India has more honors kids than America has kids.” It also said, “The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 … did not exist in 2004.” And it added, “The amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years. For students starting a 4-year technical degree, this means that … half of what they will learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study.”

And one of the latest versions of the video, entitled, “Did you know? Shift happens,” which was published in January 2016, informs us that 65 percent of today's high school students will hold jobs that don’t exist yet.

Among other things, this video says, “Today’s students will have 10-14 different jobs by the age of 38.” It also says, “Worldwide, 60 to 80 percent of all new jobs come from small businesses and start-ups.” And it adds, “95 percent of all new entrepreneurs have a bachelor’s degree or higher.”

In other words, the reason why the college readiness definition needs to be redefined virtually every year is because we aren’t preparing students for jobs in the industrial age. We should be preparing students for jobs in the information age. And that means “preparing students for jobs and technologies that don’t yet exist.” 

This is especially challenging for students from low-income families. According to a report from the Lumina Foundation entitled, “The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2015,” acknowledges that academic readiness – long the sole focus of monitoring college readiness – is only one of four critical domains that determine an individual’s readiness for success in college and a career. The report, which was posted in January 2016, says, “Crosscutting skills, behavioral skills, and the ability to navigate future pathways are also important factors to measure and address. Together, these elements define a clear picture of student readiness for postsecondary education. To encourage progress, the educational system needs to monitor and sustain all key factors of success.”

This Lumina Foundation report is designed to help educators understand and answer the following questions:

Are your students graduating from high school prepared for college and career?Are enough of your students taking core courses necessary to be prepared for success, and are those courses rigorous enough?What are the most popular majors/occupations, and what does the pipeline for each look like?What other dimensions of college and career readiness, outside of academic readiness, should educators measure and track?

The Advocate of Affordable College encourages educators to read this report – especially if you haven’t reviewed the topic in the past year. Ten years ago, “Did You Know 2.0” observed, “Many of today’s college majors didn’t exist 10 years ago.” That’s even truer today. As “Did you know? Shift happens” points out, 65 percent of today's high school students will hold jobs that don’t exist yet.

(Greg Jarboe is the editor of The Advocate of Affordable College blog and the former editor of the Knowledge Transfer blog. He’s also the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, an instructor at the Rutgers Business School, the content marketing faculty chair at Market Motive, as well as the author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day.)