High school students today spend an increasing proportion of their time thinking about getting into college. Yet applying to college tells students next to nothing about what to expect there.

The measures by which college admission is granted have very little to do with what success in college requires. High school, conventionally conceived, does not prepare students for college. At best it prepares students to apply to college.

From the beginning, [Bard College] at Simon’s Rock has enrolled students directly into college after the 10th or 11th grade. Students come from everywhere, having exhausted the most challenging offerings of their local high schools or outgrown the curriculum at elite private or specialized public schools.

We found that if those grades are taught by college professors with a deep commitment to adolescent education – the same professors who would later teach the same students in a rigorous college curriculum – we could serve an entirely new demographic with similar academic outcomes. Acceleration to college effectively became a radical form of access to college.

In other words, college professors practicing a supportive, collaborative, process-based, writing-intensive pedagogy, deliberately linked to the liberal-arts tradition, with less emphasis on preparation and more on values like curiosity, problem-solving and critical inquiry, are able to guide students of diverse backgrounds and levels of preparation into college two years earlier than the norm.

Read the full article by Ian Bickford about college preparation at The Hechinger Report.