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Starting is good, but finishing is great…

January 16, 2010

Last week I read an interesting fact about the State of Michigan.

Michigan leads the nation in the percentage of adult population that earned a high school diploma and attended college but obtained no degree.

I also learned that the difference between “some college” and a Bachelors degree with regard to lifetime earnings is significant.  The difference between a high school diploma and “some college” is minimal.


Is improving the quality of our workforce and the Michigan economy as simple as making sure a higher percentage of the students that enter college actually finish with a degree?  Why don’t they finish?  Is the cost too high or are they not “college ready”?

On Thursday, the Board of Education and I toured Harvest Elementary and the High School to witness some of the programs that make Saline Area Schools great.  One of the classes we visited was the “seniors only” flexible-schedule English class where the students attend class two days a week.  The other three days they are involved in community service projects around Saline.  They are making valuable contributions at places like Brecon Village, Human Society, and the Red Cross. It was interesting to hear the students share the impact of not being in class and “accountable” to a teacher on a daily basis.  Many were working through their own learning about how to manage the newfound flexibility.  Several noted this provided them with a new perspective on how they need to manage their time, especially as they prepare for college.

I feel we not only need to prepare our students for the rigors of college, but also for the structure of the learning environment.  This style of course provides a relevant experience for our college bound students. We must make sure Saline students have the skills not only to get into college, but also to obtain a degree.

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