Student's View: What Does College and Career Readiness Mean?

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Student's View: What Does College and Career Readiness Mean?

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association


AASA, The School Superintendents Association, recently released the winners of the 2018 Redefining Ready! Scholarship Contest, which asked high school seniors to create 30-second videos about why they’re ready for college, careers and life beyond grades or a test score. Some got creative like the national first place winner, Daniel Zhang, who made a rap about his high school accomplishments. Others vlogged, drew diagrams and even made presentations. All the videos can be found at

While I can’t say much about how high school prepared me for a career or life just yet, watching the videos made me think about my own high school experience and how it prepared me for my first year of college.

I did my fair share of exploring in high school. I joined my school’s swim team without knowing how to swim and drowned for the first three weeks of practice before getting the hang of it and committing to swim for two years. Then, I moved onto the color guard team, where I became captain as a senior.

I did some academic extracurriculars too. I was vice president of my national honor society chapter and president of my school’s math and English honor societies. I was captain of the speech team, placing at states my third year. I helped found a volunteer club called Cranes for a Cause, which got its name from our first project where we folded 1,000 cranes to decorate the office of a staff member who lost her husband. From that club and other miscellaneous organizations, I racked up over 400 hours of community service by graduation. I also wasn’t coming home until well after 10 pm some days because I was paranoid I wasn’t doing enough.

In retrospect, what prepared me the most for college were the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program. Like many other students, I did a lot of what I did just to build my resume. The IB Diploma was no exception. I wanted to take the hardest classes offered at my school and walk away with a tangible diploma to dangle in front of college admissions.

That was the wrong mentality to have. You don’t receive your IB Diploma until after graduation, so all I had for college admissions was the “IB Diploma Candidate” title on my transcript. What really prepared me for college was the immense amount of writing I did in the diploma program. I had to write an internalized assessment (IA) at least 10 pages long for every class, a 4,000 word Extended Essay and a 3,000 word Theory of Knowledge essay on top of the essays I was getting as regular classwork (at least an essay or two a week).

All that experience helped me write my scholarship essays, which helped me receive a full four-year scholarship through Questbridge. Writing in high school taught me the drafting, editing and time management skills I use today as an English major. It’s also a marketable skill I use when applying for my internships and part time jobs. As much as I understand the mentality to accumulate as many high school accolades as possible for college applications, you can only fit so much on a one-page resume. After getting into college, nobody cares if you played football in high school if you don’t have the maturity and diligence to handle the coursework as a prospective chemistry major.

I think that the ability to prioritize and hone a few key skills is essential to success in college. Whether a student joins 12 clubs in high school or two, those clubs must mean something beyond a talking point for college interviews.

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