LIFETRACKS Putting Young People on the Track to College, One Life at a Time BMA Team 10: The X Team

Andrew Meyer, Kevin Kock, Sharon Silverman, Susan Opp
Far too few American youth are prepared for college-level academic work upon graduation from high school. According to ACT, the largest college admissions test in the U.S., only 25% of test takers in 2012 met their benchmarks for college-readiness in English, math, reading and science. In other words, only 25% of the test takers had the "knowledge and skills a student needs to enroll and succeed in college-bearing first-year courses.... without the need for remediation". Not only are young
more » ... e unprepared for college, but they are dropping out of high school in alarming numbers. According to a recent PBS story, "In 2007, nearly 6.2 million young people were high school dropouts. Every student who does not complete high school costs our society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity." Furthermore, in 2009 in the U.S., 3% of white males dropped out after one year of high school. The statistics are even worse for young black males and young Hispanic males: 4.4% of black males and 5.3% of Hispanic males dropped out of high school after one year. Our educational system is failing to produce young people ready to succeed in college. This lack of academic success is far less pronounced in young women than in young men. In their recent book, The Rise of Women, Thomas DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann point out that as early as elementary and middle school, girls have better social skills than boys and earn higher average grades at all school levels, leading to a greater likelihood of girls earning a degree than boys. Claudia Buchmann, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed, commented that "boys' lower engagement in school leads to weaker preparation, and then reduces their chances of getting through college." What are young men doing with their time? Among other things, they're gaming. According to a recent study by EEDAR, a game research firm, men are the big spenders when it comes to mobile games. These big spenders, or "whales", play an average of 11.8 hours per week, far more time than spent by women. Is the time spent on games wasted time? Some would say no-gamers, especially those who play alternate reality games, are learning valuable skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and persistence. Young people engaged in gaming are working collaboratively, engaged, and successful at demonstrating "collective intelligence". Educational gaming is an area that is gaining in popularity and looks to become even more popular as technology improves. President Obama has created an office to study the ability