If you’re considering enrolling your son or daughter in a residential therapeutic school, you may be wondering if that decision impacts their ability to successfully enroll in college, but in fact, the intervention may be exactly what helps your child succeed in post-secondary education. There are actually a number of therapeutic programs with exceptionally strong academic offerings, and some even offer Honors and Advanced Placement classes, and arts curriculums. These courses can prepare your child for the scholastic rigors of the college experience, but for most students (even those not attending therapeutic programs), the challenges of academics isn’t the primary reason students are dropping out of school.
According to Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity study in 2011, almost 45% of US college students will drop-out before they complete their degree (source: harvard.edu). The reasons, of course, are varied - not least among them are students having to choose work over studies due to financial reasons. But besides financial pressures, there are many more reasons students are leaving college. And the consequence for abandoning secondary education has grown more punitive; “in 2008, median earnings of workers with bachelor’s degrees were 65 percent higher than those of high school graduates ($55,700 vs. $33,800). Similarly, workers with associate’s degrees earned 73 percent more than those who had not completed high school ($42,000vs. $24,300).” As is so objectively obvious, secondary education prepares young adults for selection into the modern business world and confers more financial security. And so, besides tuition, what else innoculates college-bound students to embrace and succeed among the rigors of college? Having an appropriate academic foundation and well-established study skills in place are key components of postsecondary success, but equally crucial to collegiate success is a student’s ability to make consistently healthy behavioral choices, the ability to make and keep healthy peer relationships, the ability to self-advocate and speak to adults (including professors), and the confidence that engagement and hard work will generally result in academic success.
A residential therapeutic school can help your son or daughter practice, and even master, the associated skills needed for college success, all while they’re being supported and challenged in core content areas. As US News recently noted, the five core soft skills that are critical to college success are Collaboration, Communication and Interpersonal Skills, Problem Solving, Time Management, and Leadership (source: usnews.com). Therapeutic schools, by their very design, place a high level of focus on developing student’s “soft skills” and preparing them to be well-rounded, and well-grounded, students who are prepared to work well with others. This focused preparation, when combined with traditional academic “hard skills”, can help your child become a well-rounded and well educated student who has not just the academic foundation, but also the emotional intelligence, to be successful at college.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJake Weld holds a masters degree in education and has over twenty years of experience in traditional, LD, and therapeutic schools, adolescent and young adult programs, and conventional, wilderness, and residential settings. He has served as the Executive Director of a therapeutic boarding school, the Assistant Headmaster of a specialized LD boarding school, and as the Academic and Program Director of various schools and programs. He is currently the Director of Admissions and Business Development for Mansfield Hall, a specialized college support program in Burlington, VT, and Madison, WI.