What Exactly is College Readiness?

College Readiness is the level of preparation a student needs in order to enroll and succeed without remediation. Read this article to know more about college readiness.

TCM Staff

12th May 2020

College readiness is an important topic worldwide. When a student graduates from high school and decides to go to college, it is important for them to be prepared and know what is expected. More importantly, they need to know how to get into college, like AP classes, SAT, and study habits. College readiness is important in a student’s education.

Are You Ready For College?

Reflect on your experience as a college student. Which of the following areas would you say is the most difficult for you?

  • Being smart enough (prior content knowledge).

  • Knowing how to study new material.

  • Knowing how to navigate the college environment.

  • Self-control (discipline, motivation, etc).

  • Time (how to manage it).

What Exactly is College Readiness?

College Readiness is the level of preparation a student needs in order to enroll and succeed without remediation, but in a credit-bearing, general education course at a postsecondary institution that offers a baccalaureate degree or transfers to a baccalaureate degree. College readiness is a strange term that ought to be described as more granularly. 

Some factors that go into “college readiness” include:

  1. Ability to maintain one’s mental and physical health

  2. Ability to make friends or connections and add to the richness of the school’s social sphere

  3. Ability to bounce back from failure or suboptimal performance

  4. Ability to be intellectually or emotionally flexible, adjust to new environments

  5. Potentiality to manage one’s time effectively, balance obligations, complete assignments, and learn effectively.

Being ready for college means being prepared for any post-secondary education or training experience, including study at two and four years institutions leading to a postsecondary credential i.e., certificate, license, Bachelor’s, or Associate’s degree. Being ready for college means that a high school graduate has the English and mathematics skills necessary to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses without the need for remedial coursework. 

The Four Dimensions of College Readiness:

  1. Key Cognitive Strategies

  2. Key Content Knowledge

  3. Academic Behaviors

  4. Contextual Skills and Awareness

Cognitive Strategies

Students who are applying to enter college are more likely to succeed if they can:

  • Formulate, investigate, and propose solutions to non-routine problems.

  • Analyze and understand the conflicting explanations of phenomena or events.

  • Estimate the credibility and utility of source material and then integrate sources into a paper or project appropriately.

  • Understand analytically and logically, comparing and contrasting differing philosophies, methods, and positions to understand an issue or concept.

  • Practice precision and accuracy as they apply their methods and develop their products.

Content Knowledge

Several independently conducted research efforts have identified the key knowledge and skills students should matter to take full advantage of college.

  • Standards of Success systematically polled university faculty members and analyzed their course documents to determine what these teachers expected of students in entry-level courses.

  • The American Diploma Project consulted representations of the business community and postsecondary faculty to define standards in math and English.

  • ACT and the College Board have released college readiness standards in English and math.

  • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board under the mandate of state laws developed one of the first and most comprehensive sets of the state-level college readiness standards.

  • The Common Core has established standardized, national standards for what students should know at each grade level.

  • The above-mentioned reports are highly similar in terms of the content knowledge expectations they outline.

  • They all identify a managerial set of big ideas, key concepts, and organizing principles that form the structure of each academic subject area, and they emphasize the importance of students making connections among the big ideas.

  • This is particularly focusing on the structure of knowledge that enables students to scaffold their understandings in a way that postsecondary education can build on.

Self-management Skills (Non-Cognitive Skills)

When in college, students must keep track of massive amounts of information and organize themselves to meet competing deadlines and priorities.

  • They must plan their time carefully and must complete these tasks.

  • They must be able to study independently and in formal and informal study groups.

  • They must understand when to seek help from academic support services and when to cut their losses and drop a course.

  • These tasks require non-cognitive skills. The skills that individuals must develop over time, with considerable practice and trail and error.

Knowledge About Post-secondary Education

Choosing a college, applying, securing financial aid, and then adjusting to college life requires a tremendous amount of specialized knowledge.

  • Matching personal interests with college majors and programs.

  • Knowing federal and individual college financial aid programs and how and when to complete appropriate forms.

  • Applying for, preparing for, and taking required admissions exams.

  • Registering to college on time and submitting all necessary information.

  • Knowing how the culture of college is different from that of high school or employment.


Being ready for college is like being ready for a long-term commitment. In that, if you are having serious doubts then it is likely to be considered as a good indicator that you are not ready. Doubt is a sign that you are not emotionally committed to going to college, even if you are prepared academically. Always remember that it is not a compulsion for you to go straight to a four-year institution just because everyone else is doing it. You can take your time and then decide to attend college.

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