File - The ePortfolio of Jordan Roth

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Jordan Roth
Melody Wentworth
English 111
12 November 2012
Transition Recognition
Imagine being a first time student, walking through the doors of a well-known
university, scraping the dirt encrusted in your shoes off as to not dirty the polished floor of the
gorgeous, castle-like entryway. Looking around you see ancient photographs of founding
fathers and esteemed graduates lining the almost royal walls of the grand corridor leading to
your lecture hall. You see other pupils rushing to their courses, the orientation started 5
minutes ago and you are desperate to find the correct auditorium. You look around in haste for
assistance, only to find others looking as bewildered and disoriented as yourself, and students
that are so wrapped up in their own affairs, you would clearly be inconveniencing them to ask
for their aid. You glance again at your welcome package hoping for a map of the building, only
to realize you are in the wrong building and have to begin the foot trek to the next hall.
Smashing your materials back into your backpack, you turn around and begin your journey.
Outside it is snowing. Your feet, and your enthusiasm, have grown bitter from the freezing
cement as you tread along. You have thoughts of abandoning the idea altogether, but the
determination filling your veins warms and drive you to bear the storm. You enter the building,
quickly determine the proper amphitheater, and barge in, not realizing you have just
interrupted an opening speech and all eyes are now focused on you. Feeling uncomfortable
yet?
High schools and colleges are not focusing enough energy on the development of a
transitioning student from secondary institutes to higher education. High school has a similar
hour by hour schedule, but this four year experience typically does not effectively transition a
growing mind into a completely different academic realm. The average transitioning student
doesn’t even realize that they must change more than just their study habits to survive in
college academia. The student must change their whole view of learning to succeed. John Tagg,
a professor of English at the Palomar College in San Macros, California confirms, “the whole was
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gradually becoming a part of a new whole.” (Tagg 10) Meaning, the high school process of
thinking must be thrown out the door. “High schools should pay more attention to the needs of
college bound students,” William Smith and Pidi Zhang, Instructors from the Department of
Sociology and Anthropology at Georgia Southern University agree. In addition, colleges need to
be better prepared to accept students from various ages and backgrounds. “We need to better
ascertain how developmentally prepared these students are when they arrive on college
campus.” (Kelly, Kendrick, Newgent, and Lucas 1021) There is an abrupt, stark, shock that can
cripple motivation, and even place a freshman into mental disarray. “Among the many
potential stressors, are the loss of one’s school friends, the need to form fresh relationships and
groups, potentially moving away from home and becoming acquainted with new college
roommates, dealing with different methods of learning, and the expectation of increased
autonomy in life and studies.” (Cleary, Walter, and Jackson 250)
The transition from high school to college is arduous and filled with pitfalls, but there is
hope. Credit-based transition programs offer a way for a high school student to gain college
credit, while still attending high school, and it has been found to aid in the successful
completion of a four year University. Michael Fowler, ED.D, the principal of the Moon Valley
High School in Phoenix Arizona and Gaye Luna ED.D, a Professor in Educational Leadership in
the College of Education at Northern Arizona University, have collaborated, “Credit-based
transition programs have focused on easing the transitions and accelerating the passage of
students through the educational system into college.” Credit-based programs offer an
essential stepping stone to aid in the transition, but it should be a requirement, not just an
option. There is also the issue with making sure each transition program is effectively
personalized for a certain major. Lois A. Ruff, a math, science and GED preparation instructor at
Adult and Continuing Education in Bethel, Maine agrees, “Programs[transition] will need solid
partnerships with colleges and universities to ensure that they are preparing their students
appropriately.”(Ruff 185) So not only are the transition programs vital, but it would even better
aid student success to have these programs tailor to specific areas students hope to study.
Regardless of how well the transition programs are shaped for subsequent study the lack of
focus on the necessity to attend transition programs still remains. Kelly, Kendrick, Newgent and
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Lucas explain, “findings suggest that there is a need to begin transitional programs prior to
entering the University that prepare the student for the expectations of college life and give
them some general idea of what is expected of them when they arrive on campus.”(1030).
Graduation rates are a serious factor in the studies conducted on transition programs both in
college and high school. It is surprising to find that credit-based transition programs not only aid
in the likelihood of a student enrolling in college, they actually improve the graduation rates of
students in secondary education. Fowler and Luna have articulated, “The LaGuardia Middle
College High School Program in New York, as a credit-based transition program, found 95% of
their students graduate from high school and 90% go on to college.”(Fowler, Luna 71) These
findings are incredible to discover, and not find that it isn’t a requirement for all high schools, or
at least more strongly emphasized in secondary education during the junior and senior years.
Among the many complexities of the metamorphosis from high school to college lie
hidden stress factors that are not easily perceived as readily available. Michelle Cleary, RN, PhD,
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western, Sydney, Sydney, Australia, Garry
Walter, MB, BS, BMedSc, PhD, FRANZCP, Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Sidney, New
South Wales, Sydney, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Northern Sydney
Central Coast Health, New South Wales, Sydney Australia, and Debra Jackson, RN, PhD, Family
& Community Health Research Group, School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Western
Sydney, Sydney Australia state, “Today, many students transitioning to college or university are
ill-prepared for the adjustment required, including the academic requirements, and cannot
effectively manage study, work, and the various extracurricular demands(Cook, 2007).”
Transitioning into a work, school and life-on-your-own environment can take a toll on the
human body and mind. Cleary, Walter, and Jackson also support, “Further work is also needed
to ascertain how academic programs can structure curricula and support to decrease student
distress and assist those who are struggling (Dyrbye et al., 2006)” College coursework loads,
and the way they are arranged, can increase the probability of mental illness as well as other
issues relating to the transition from high school to college. These problems can lead to
unsuccessful completion of schooling, as well as long term mental illness if these concerns
aren’t addressed at the early onslaught. “Higher education institutions expend considerable
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resources on counseling and other student health services” say Cleary, Walter, and Jackson,
which begs the question; if there is such an issue with mental illness relating to transitioning
into collegiate life, why aren’t such services made more obvious? Academics were heavily
researched as factors relating to student retention, but mental components and the lack of
preparation thereof, need to be strongly addressed as solvable obstructions relating to
transition from secondary education to higher learning. This issue has also been exacerbated by
the lack of adequate preparation in high school for the many challenges associated with
campus life; including money management and the balance of academic work-loads, actual
work-loads and personal extracurricular activities.
The recognition of transition obstacles is a noble beginning, but students and faculty can
take action immediately to solve these issues. So observe closely teachers. If you see a student
struggling with the process of change, make it known that there is help. Give them the phone
number of a mental health hotline, a class advisor, a mentor. Give them a chance to succeed
and the necessary means to feel comfortable, to grow, to absorb. Students, you are not off the
hook either, if you are near completion of high school, ask questions. The chances of finding
help are much greater while still attending secondary school, and your success in higher
learning could depend on it. Freshman, the same applies to you. Get involved, find an
extracurricular activity that you are passionate about and dive in. Find new friends that
encourage you to work hard and never quit. There is a wealth of knowledge waiting to be
unleashed in the growing minds of both students and instructors. So listen up, shut up, take a
step back and reevaluate. Come up with a plan. Then, attack the plan with the desperation of a
dying man.
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Works Cited
Fowler, Michael, and Gaye Luna. "High School And College Partnerships: Credit-Based
Transition
Programs." American Secondary Education 38.1 (2009): 62-76. Academic Search Elite.
Web. 29
Oct. 2012.
Cleary, Michelle, Garry Walter, and Debra Jackson. "''Not Always Smooth Sailing'': Mental
Health Issues
Associated With The Transition From High School To College." Issues In Mental Health
Nursing
32.4 (2011): 250-254. Academic Search Elite. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.
Smith, William L., and Pidi Zhang. "Students' Perceptions And Experiences With Key Factors
During The
Transition From High School To College." College Student Journal 43.2 (2009): 643-657.
Academic Search Elite. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.
Christopher J. Lucas, et al. "Strategies For Student Transition To College: A Proactive Approach."
College
Student Journal 41.4 (2007): 1021-1035. Academic Search Elite. Web. 5 Nov. 2012.
Tagg, John. "Why Learn?." About Campus 9.1 (2004): 2-10. Academic Search Elite. Web. 28 Nov.
2012.
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