Hoping to Start a Book Club with High School Students

I’m hoping to work with New York Cares, a non-profit volunteer organization, to lead a small book club with high school students. Ideally, I would pick the first book and then the students would work together to choose each book after that. This is something I tried getting off the ground during the previous school year but was unsuccessful in finding the right community partner.

Last year, I was not strategic about when I started my search for a school/community partner. I waited until after the school year began, but at that point, schools and community organizations have already finalized their programming for the year–rookie mistake on my part. I’ve been doing my out reach sense the end of July, so I’m feeling optimistic.

I’m Working with Sophomores to Prepare for the PSAT

This week, I started a new tutoring program that helps sophomore high school students prepare for the PSAT. As noted a number of times in the past, I majored in English, and so I help two students improve their verbal PSAT score(they took a pre-PSAT). These students were recommended by their guidance counselors and deemed as those on the college track. Generally speaking, these students are minorities in public schools that are subpar. Generally speaking, they’re relatively shy but encouragingly focused and career oriented. They’re motivated and have an understanding that they can have a beautiful life years from now, if they work hard now.

The issue I found, despite all these glorious traits, is that they didn’t know how to use commas or semicolons. They couldn’t write four concise consecutive sentences. And when asked how they could make their weakly connected sentences better, they had no clue how to.

Time is an issue here. The time I have with them is supposed to be used to teach them how to take the PSAT in twelve hours across twelve weeks. But, I cant jump into how to take the test when they’re not well versed on the basics. I don’t know how to ignore that deficiency, and they deserve more than that. I’ll just spend a few hours on the basics and  then end that chapter of the class with a quiz, one on one assesment and then continous feedback on whether the fundmenatals are becoming a part of their new standard.

One thing I can say about why this project is so exciting is that they were wowed when we worked towards strengthening those weak sentences and after we made these sentences better, they had a look, an expression of now understanding something they didn’t know they didn’t know.

Most Likely to Get a Menial Job Post Graduation

Tiny Dintersmith and Ted Wagner write, “‘You can either get your college degree or end up with a menial job.’ But the reality in America today?  Millions of adults end up with both.”

It’s upsetting that leaders in the higher education community won’t acknowledge this.

It’s even more absurd that colleges with gross price stickers take money from middle income families that have to take out loans to pay the school, but end up with a degree that can’t get them anywhere.

Our students aren’t counseled enough to understand their “investment” both in high school and throughout college. Diane Ravitch has said that college isn’t necessarily for those seeking to make tons of money, which must be true because graduates are coming out with tons of debt and low jobs–there debt far exceeds there income.

Some people say college is a lifetime investment, so even though one may not make much right after college, the gains will come later in life. But that can’t be the case for, say, art history at middle rate college.

I thinks students are conditioned to believe that to believe that hard work in first high school, then college, is the key to “success” but they’re not told that there’s so much more that goes into that, including finding what one wants to do with their life in order to make these loops worth it.

We put too much pressure on students to perform well academically and tell them that going to college but they’re too young and have been conditioned to theoritical learning to fully understand what kind of real investment they’re making. The schools certainly won’t stop and tell them.

Part of me thinks students should pay the amount economists predicts what a students major will garner, not necessarily throughout their lifetime but maybe expected salary in the current job market. It seems to be fair for the students because one ridiculous high price tag does not benefit all. We sadly go under the assumption that it does.