Are High School Students Prepared?

Each year, the University of Michigan welcomes over 4000 new undergraduates from all 50 states and over 100 countries. As diverse and eclectic as that makes the University of Michigan, one fact remains the same: each student comes from a very different academic background.

These differences in academic backgrounds result in some students entering their freshmen year fully prepared and others not prepared at all. While 25 percent of students at U-M had a 4.0 grade point average in high school, not all have the same success here. The University of Michigan Office of Undergraduate admissions has implemented certain policies to help the transition smoother for those students who need it.

One program targeted at preparing incoming freshmen is the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP). A learning community established in 1983, the program was created to prepare students for the demands of such a “large research university,” according to the program’s website.

The program selects around 600 incoming freshmen each year who “come from the smallest towns, the biggest cities, the broadest range of family backgrounds, and sometimes most challenging high school settings.” Each student in CSP is paired with an academic advisor who is “dedicated to supporting all students who have the desire and willingness to work hard toward achieving their academic and career goals.” CSP offers special sections and tutoring for demanding introduction courses in math, biology, English, Spanish, and economics. These sections are designed for a more one on one experience for freshmen.

The CSP program also offers the Summer Bridge Program, which offers intensive preparation in math and English to improve students’ academic skills. The purpose of this program is to familiarize students with a large campus in the “nurturing environment of summer.” Not all students can enroll in the bridge program—selection is made by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions also requires all incoming freshmen to attend an overnight orientation program. Unlike many other prominent universities, U-M orientation lasts a full two and a half days, where most students stay overnight in dorms and are randomly assigned roommates. At this program, “students are partnered with the advisor whom they will be spending the next four years with,” said a spokesperson for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. This way, students get a one on one meeting with their advisor before they jump into their first semester.

The University also requires all undergraduates in LSA to complete a first year writing requirement, “to prepare students for the type of writing most often assigned and valued in University courses.” The courses are designed to teach students the discipline and skills needed for college-level writing. Engineering students are required to complete Engineering 100, a class dedicated to technical writing required in the engineering field.

Freshmen Jackson Pierce says he “is as prepared as I can possibly be as a freshmen, there will be times when the work takes me by surprise but all I can do is work my way through it as best as I can.”

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted a progress report which found that only one in four students who graduate from New York City high schools are ready for college, and less than half enroll in a degree program. Even if students enter UM unprepared, they seem to figure it out pretty quickly. According to college confidential, the average LSA GPA tends to be 3.2, and freshmen do not tend to have lower GPAs than upperclassmen.

With a 96 percent graduation rate and an 83 percent four-year graduation rate, students succeed much more than they fail.

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