As a student voluntarily enrolled at Creighton Prep, a prestigious high school with a college preparatory curriculum, I am able to fully appreciate the platform and methods in which such a school administers necessary information. Creighton Prep and similar college-preparatory institutions have produced a myriad of scholars, politicians, law professionals, and notable alumni employed in professions in other facets of life. Such figures include George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, John Kerry, Daniel Webster, and Dan Brown. I am also able to fully appreciate that the students (and their parents) enrolled in such academies aspire for them to accomplish great things; however, the fact remains, statistically and realistically speaking, many of these students will experience shortcomings on their quest to achieve. If and when reality hits, and these “non-performers” fall short of their objectives, will their erudition be able to compensate for their lack of “real world” experience? Parochial college preparatory graduates and alumni of public schools alike tend to agree with me when posed with such a question. The belief is that students at these establishments are often left ill-prepared for daily life, and thus these schools must begin to implement trade and other “life” classes into their curriculum, in order to offer a healthy balance for the students.
There tends to be a general consensus among people in modern-day society that neither the public school system nor private parochial schools are without flaw, with each system having their own benefits dependent on the student’s career ambitions. For instance, college-preparatory schools are (by definition) oriented towards those students who have the intention of attending a four-year university. In fact, preparatory schools within North America boast a 98% matriculation rate among their students, versus a considerably lower 34% nationwide average in public school systems. But one must also take into consideration an essential question: are these college-preparatory schools truly preparing their students for everyday life in a fast-paced American society, or are these institutions merely “coaching” their graduates on gaining entry to a college or university? While I admire such aspiring graduates in their willingness and desire to further their education, statistically, less than half of the students that enter college, actually graduate with a degree. According to Al Branch, a leading journalist for the “Magazine for Leaders in Education”, approximately 45% of the students that enter four-year degree programs, graduate with a degree. Thus, it is reasonable to surmise, that a large portion of graduates from college-preparatory schools, will fail in their quest towards a college degree.
The subject of diversity has long been evident in an American society that is driven by social, economic, and academic equality among the masses. Thus, it is astonishing, that American parochial schools offer such a lack of social and ethnical diversity in their student population. While many of these schools offer financial assistance through various forms of scholarships and grants, as these schools are privately funded and received little to no federal aid, it is understandable that the amount of aid is limited. According to the United States Department of Education, less than 2% of parochial schools nationwide offer special education programs, and there is a growing amount of disparity between the social and economic classes within these schools. The typical student that attends such an academy (depending on the region, other races may be more prevalent), is a Caucasian male, whose family is a member of the upper-middle class. How does such demographic disparity among the groups prepare these students for real-world experiences, in which these students will be in a diverse society where it is necessary to be able to function with people of other ethnical, social-economic, religious, and educational backgrounds on a daily basis? Quite simply, these children are not adequately prepared for the diversity that awaits them, and thus aren’t able to assimilate into such a culture as well as public school students may be able to.
The faculty and administration at renowned college-preparatory institutions often make the assertion that the introduction of trade and “life” classes, would deter from their students’ overall core academic curriculum. However, this doesn’t necessarily need to happen. In the United States parochial schools are not typically mandated by the state or federal governments to meet a minimum threshold of education hours. The U.S. Department of Education reports that while the typically public school “educates” for an average of seven and a half hours daily (school days), private schools hold classes for a similar (or fewer) amount of school days annually, with an average school-day length of six and a half hours daily. This leaves private schools (particularly college-preparatory schools) with a one hour void daily, in which they could incorporate trade and career related classes into their curriculum, without detracting from their current curriculum. When college-bound students think of trade classes, they often associate such classes with two-year and vocational schools, and see such courses as an alternative to a college-education, rather than a supplement to it. A variety of trade classes could be offered, including (but certainly not limited to): C.P.R. and First Aid certification for those wishing to pursue a career in the medical field, auto-shop or mechanics for students aspiring to work in engineering, and business/entrepreneurial seminars for students who desire to work in a business profession. Such courses certainly would not detract from a student’s core curriculum, but would instead be a beneficial supplement to it, allowing students to actively get a “head-start” on a field of interest.