The American High School - University of Connecticut

The American High School
How It Shapes Our College Freshmen
A Few Facts:
• No national curriculum; each state can set
own standards
• Each teacher has freedom to decide what to
• Each teacher decides how to test, how many
tests to give, how to grade tests
Students:Who Goes Where?
• The public schools are free to all students who live
in the geographical region
For example: E.O.Smith serves 3 towns:
Mansfield, Ashford and Willington
• Buses pick up students at their homes or close to
their homes to transport them to school
• The schools must accept all students regardless of
learning disabilities or physical handicaps
What Do They Do There?
• Classes run from 7:25 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
• Your classes are chosen for you by meeting
with a guidance counselor who checks to
see that you will have the right classes to
• The school year is approximately 36 weeks:
some classes go all year, some change at
Typical Classes
• Science: Biology,
Chemistry, Physics*,
Earth Science*
• Mathematics: Algebra
I, Geometry, Algebra
II, Pre-Calculus*
• Social Sciences: World
Civ, American History,
• English: Tech prep,
college prep, literature
• Art: Drawing, Painting,
Sculpture, Jewelry
• Music
• Physical Education= Gym;
required first 3 years
• Foreign Language:
Spanish, French, Latin,
And…after school!
• Sports: Football,
basketball, soccer,
tennis, golf, track,
• Clubs: Chess, Math,
Latin, Ski, Drama,
French, etc.
• Music: Band,
orchestra, jazz
• Driver’s Ed--students
can get license at 16:
must have driver’s ed
course: state
So, the typical H.S. student is…
• Well-rounded or has a superficial
knowledge of many things?
• NOT prepared to be an independent learner
• NOT sure what s/he wants to study or has
parents telling him/her what to study
• NOT sure what do with all the free hours in
a day at college/or working all the free
High School to College
How does this translate into what
happens in college?
Who comes to UConn?
• 35% entering freshmen in top 10% of high
school class
• 79% in top 25%
• 80% Connecticut residents
• Average SAT score: 1177 (national average
is 1026)
A Little History…
• 1940: 16% of population attended college
• 1961: 48% High school grads went to
• 1981: 53.9%
• 2001: 61.7%
• Between 1991-2 and 2001-2 tuition at
public colleges rose 21%; private 26%
Which means…
• Students are increasingly less elite
• Average student is less affluent
• 2004: increases in tuition during preceding
decade outpaced inflation and growth of
median family income
• DEBT: college students incurring debt and
working while in school
Who leaves UConn?
• Graduation rate within 6 years: 71%
• To repay debts students choose practical
majors; “well-paying” fields
• Decline in majors like philosophy, history,
• Increase in business, computer science,
health professions
• Market driven, market focused universities
Your job then is…
• Figure out how to deal with a class of
students who have totally different
backgrounds and levels of preparation
• Encourage/motivate them to do the work
and keep up
• Teach them how to study in your field
• Remember they will not learn like you did!
Things to Think About…
• Major differences between U.S. High
school system and your country’s?
• How will these differences show up in the
college classroom?
• Is there anything you’ll need to change
about your teaching style?
Prepared by: Catherine Ross
Institute for Teaching & Learning
University of Connecticut
Nathan, R. (2005) “My Freshman Year:What a Professor
Learned by Becoming a Student”, Cornell University Press.