How Prepared Are Your Students for College?

Kara Powell

According to our Sticky Faith research, 6 of 7 youth group graduates don’t feel their faith is ready for what they will face after high school.

Based on some research done on academic readiness in college students, high school graduates are only a tiny bit better prepared for what they will face academically. Three out of 4 college students are not prepared academically for what they will face in the classroom.

This infographic illustrates some important (and at times alarming) findings about the academic experiences of college students:

  • Half of all college students drop out before completing their degree.

  • 5 out of 10 college students can’t find Ohio or New York on a map. (No data was collected on youth leaders or parents, perhaps thankfully.)

  • 4 out of 5 college students pursuing a Math-related degree do not feel like their high school education was adequate.

While our Sticky Faith research did not examine academic challenges, I can imagine that the stress of feeling “over your head” in the classroom can add to the turbulence of the overall transition.

I can also imagine that feeling ill-prepared for the academic load could cause a college student to withdraw socially from Christian fellowship, whether it’s because they feel they need to spend more time studying or because of their emotional turmoil.

While most of us parents and leaders won’t be able to step in directly to help college students with their academic load, we can help them navigate their transition emotionally by:

  1. Reminding them that their identity ultimately lies in Christ, not their grades.

  2. Encouraging them that both we and God love (and like) them no matter what grades they are receiving. Maybe we even show that in a tangible way through a special note or care package.

  3. Pointing them to Christian community. In times of stress and emotional overload, college students need Christian community more than ever.

  4. Letting parents know about the academic stress their college students might be under and encourage them to be extra understanding, prayerful, and supportive.

You can also try this curriculum from the Fuller Youth Institute to help prepare high school students for faith beyond youth group!

What other ideas do you have for supporting college students in the midst of a challenging academic transition?


Published Mar 04, 2013
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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