College Transition Initiative

Welcome to the blog of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s (CPYU) College Transition Initiative (CTI). This site contains commentary on transitional issues, exploring research, trends and college student culture. For more information visit:

My Photo
Location: Elizabethtown, PA, United States

The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, and yet, it is a transition that is often overlooked. This site is to help college bound students, parents, and youth workers stay up to date on the latest research and trends in regards to college transition. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Join the conversation!

Monday, January 23, 2006


While this blog is primarily dedicated to assisting those charged with the task of helping students transition from high school to college, I thought I’d pass along some beneficial new research on another transition: the transition from college to the “real world.”

The research was conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), “an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research on important social issues.” The important social issue this time: the literacy of America’s college students. From the executive summary:
“Rapid changes in technology make it necessary for adults of all ages to use written information in new and more complex ways. For example, learning how to operate computers, filling out complicated tax forms, and comparing price labels when shopping for groceries are just a few of the many tasks that are important parts of our lives. Every adult needs a range of literacy skills to achieve his or her personal goals, pursue a successful career, and play an active role as a citizen. High levels of literacy also enable individuals to keep pace with changing educational expectations and technologies and support the aspirations of their families.

With the recent attention on accountability measures for elementary and secondary schools, accountability in institutions of higher education has been all but overlooked. The National Survey of America's College Students (NSACS) is a study that examines the literacy of U.S. college students, providing information on how prepared these students are to continue to learn and use the skills that they will need in the years to come.”

You can read a complete overview of the research and the findings here.

For a good introduction, Ben Feller of the Associated Press offers a helpful summary of the data at Yahoo News. Feller writes:

“More than half of students at four-year colleges — and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges — lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks such as understanding credit card offers, a study found...

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

Without "proficient" skills, or those needed to perform more complex tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.”

What interests me most is AIR’s focus on accountability. We always seem to be criticizing and analyzing high school education, forcing educators and administrators to produce “results,” but we often fail to press higher education in the same regard. This research is a good indicator that some things may need to change in the curricular landscape of higher learning in America. If, of course, we can agree that having literate graduates is a good thing.

For more: AIR press release.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home