How Montessori Prepared Me For College

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As a college student, there are a number of things I remember from high school. In particular, there are a number of questions I remember being asked constantly. During my junior and senior year, the questions were always “where do you want to go to college?” or “what do you want to do with your life?”

Now these are pretty standard questions for high school students, and after a while I got used to answering them. However, there was always one question that I never quite got used to answering. It was a question that I answered constantly my freshman year and continue to answer to this day.

At my high school, students came from middle schools in a wide range of cities, so the most common question people asked was “where did you go to middle school?” My answer was always the same; I told them I went to a Montessori school. You would think people would just say “okay” and move on, but that rarely occurred. No, this question always launched a number of others.

“Isn’t that just for preschoolers?”

“Isn’t that for super smart people?”

“You really went to a Montessori school?”

“Is that a real place?”

I always answered their questions, even the ones that questioned if it was a real place, and told them that I was beyond prepared for high school because of my Montessori education. Six years later, as I go through college, I have come to the realization that the Montessori education I received in elementary and middle school did more than just prepare me for high school- It prepared me for college, too.

1. Montessori taught me an irreplaceable skill: time management.

I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am for being taught this skill at a young age. It is a skill that is present in every facet of life, but also one that a large number of students struggle with. From the day I started preschool until the day I graduated from eighth grade, my Montessori teachers challenged me to complete assignments by a deadline, but they never said exactly when I had to do the work. I was forced to take responsibility for my learning and this allowed me to develop effective work habits that are at the core of my success today. Montessori makes a difference.

2. Montessori prepared me for college by allowing me to discover my true academic interests.

As a math lover, I was never held back from moving past typical grade level content. In eighth grade I was working on geometry, which is a course that is typically completed in high school. The opportunities to pursue my interests seemed endless in Montessori, and this, in turn, prepared me for the challenges of college. I am now able to go into any course feeling ready to explore without feeling intimidated by any challenges that may arise. I know how to keep myself motivated and am not afraid to let myself become completely involved in what I am learning. College is all about following your interests toward a career. I am lucky enough to have been chasing my interests in school for the past 13 years!

3. Collaboration: I cannot stress enough the importance of having collaboration skills in college.

Growing up, Montessori taught me to work cooperatively with people of different ages, races, and skill sets. It taught me not to judge people based on their grades or by their smarts, but rather by their ability to cooperate with myself and other group members to reach a common goal. Understanding that working with others is a normal part of life made my transition into college significantly smoother than many of my current classmates.

Right now, I am in my second year of college working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics. The courses I have taken over this past year range from Calculus to Forensic Science to Introductory Spanish. Over the past two years, I have met students with an array of school backgrounds. In talking to them, I have come to realize that my Montessori foundation has helped me get through school much easier than some of my classmates. It taught me how to juggle my time permitting me to maintain a job, keep up with my schoolwork, and coach a swim team, all while still finding time to relax. I discovered the value of working with others and found that math is a subject I really love, which helped me determine what I want to do with my life.

Montessori taught me how to study, how to take notes, and how to work independently; how to set goals and chase them as well as how to become a self-motivated learner.

The list could go on and on but the idea remains the same, Montessori is a fantastic option for college preparation and the skills students learn growing up in a Montessori environment provide an irreplaceable foundation for overall higher education success.

 


katieKatie Krawczyk
 is a graduate of Creative Montessori Academy (CMA), a public charter Montessori school in Southgate, Michigan, where she spent 10 years of her educational life from preschool until 8th Grade. She is currently a student at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, where she is pursuing a degree in mathematics and secondary education. Although she has been a Montessori graduate for over six years now, she cherishes the skills and experiences that she gained during those formative school years in a Montessori public school. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching swim lessons, watching movies, and one day hopes to travel the world.  

19 Comments for : How Montessori Prepared Me For College
  1. Reply

    Great article and I couldn’t agree with you more. I always knew that I wanted my child(ren) to be enrolled in a Montessori school. With our one, he’s been in since pre-K and he’ll start his first year in August. I’m thankful we have an excellent Montessori program in our community that currently, goes up to the sixth year. =)

      • AmandaAmanda
      • March 3, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Jessica!
      Thank you for sharing with us! Hopefully with the spread of Montessori knowledge, more Montessori schools will increase their grade levels through high school. It may be wishful thinking but we can stay positive right? After all, we are the best advocates for our children and their educational needs. 🙂

        • teri
        • March 29, 2015
        Reply

        I have been an elementary trained Montessori teacher for many years. I received my training through AMI. I would like to point out that one of the problems of extending Montessori into to the high school years is that Dr. Montessori left no model for such a program and therefore when educators begin to explore this possibility often the ‘plan’ begins to break down because different people have different ideas, beliefs, and interpretations as to what such a program should look like. I suggest that such a program might be designed to reflect some of the basic philosophies, tenets, and methods of the Montessori method of education but it would not by it’s very nature be pure Montessori.

          • AmandaAmanda
          • April 1, 2015
          Reply

          Thank you for sharing your concerns Teri. I agree that it would take much work to truly reflect an authentic Montessori high school. Montessori is often left to the interpretations of those certified in AMI or AMS or even sometimes an alternative program that is not MACTE accredited. With so many views on what “authentic” really means in Montessori, it can be quite challenging to create a high school program conducive to Maria’s philosophy. It is my hope that one day more Montessori high schools will emerge and prove to be successful while following a model that is linked closely to Maria’s research and methods.

          • laureen
          • June 19, 2016
          Reply

          Teri, it certainly does take a lot of work to create an authentic Montessori program for adolescents, however I believe that Dr Montessori wrote sufficiently of the age to provide a very clear framework within which to envisage such a program. In Australia we also have an approved Montessori National Curriculum (developed with AMI), free from other state mandated curriculum and standardized testing pressures. Being AMI trained at the adolescent level, and having spent time at the model Hershey Montessori Farm School, I feel very confident that the program I have been involved with creating (as a stream in a mainstream, progressive public high school in Victoria Australia) is authentic to the tenants of Montessori philosophy – and is a fine example of world’s best practice in education. Montessori has always had that right. For this adolescent level there is clear, developmentally appropriate work that can take many forms – especially as the “materials” are now the adults after which adolescents will model themselves as opposed to the shelf work materials of the previous planes. Programs that hold to those core values may look different, but aide development in exactly the same manner. Certainly we still have much to learn, but for us all our journey is never complete, nor perfect. The best we can all do, no matter the plane we work with, is follow the child.

  2. Thank you for this article! We are a toddler through 8th grade Montessori school and we have so many parents that worry about what happens to children in the middle school and on that went to a Montessori school. There have also been parents who have pulled their child out of our school believing that Montessori can’t prepare their child for the college years. We keep telling them that a Montessori education prepares your child for LIFE!

      • AmandaAmanda
      • March 10, 2015
      Reply

      We certainly agree. It’s not just education, it’s a way of life!

  3. Reply

    Well done Katie! As someone who had the privilege of being Ms. Krawczyk’s 7th and 8th grade teacher (self-contained classroom – all subjects), it is very nice to read her comments. They serve to validate the core Montessori tenet of “freedom with responsibility.” I also believe that the Montessori model truly requires a dynamic partnership among parents, students, and teachers – a consistent willingness to be patient, creative, flexible, and ability to focus on process rather than product. Keep up the great work Katie!

    • Beth Bronsil
    • March 13, 2015
    Reply

    My two sons went to Montessori. I believed that this education prepared them for life. My oldest grandson is graduating from Mercy Montessori Center and he is an interesting person who cares about the future of our planet.

      • AmandaAmanda
      • March 16, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story Beth! We are so happy to hear that Montessori has touched your family!

      • Ser
      • September 2, 2015
      Reply

      i know a lot of people who went through traditional public schools but are also caring people who care about the planet.

    • Angela
    • March 14, 2015
    Reply

    It is so great to hear Katie’s story. Unfortunately in Australia, Montessori education does not come cheap. Per year, middle school ranges from about $8000 to $14000. Montessori Public Schools would be a god send here, so more children could be exposed to this education without parents having to scrimp and save just to get by… and with multiple children this makes things even harder! Not sure if most can justify the expense unfortunately.

      • AmandaAmanda
      • March 16, 2015
      Reply

      Nicole, your story is definitely one we hear quite often. It is our hope that with the spread of Montessori knowledge that more public schools will soon adapt this method as well. Many charter schools here in the United States have begun popping up in support of this philosophy. Our fingers are crossed for you!

      • teri
      • March 29, 2015
      Reply

      Montessori education is largely privatized in the US as well. There are some ‘public’ Montessori schools but they can be hit and miss as to how pure their Montessori curriculum is given the governing bodies of Montessori have little or no say so in the public arena. Plus public Montessori schools are often subject to the states testing requirements and testing in and of itself goes against one of the basic tenets of the Montessori method. Having said that public Montessori is largely better than no Montessori.

        • AmandaAmanda
        • April 1, 2015
        Reply

        Montessori schools in the public sector can also prove to be successful. As a MACTE accredited teacher who worked in both private and public Montessori schools, my experience has proven that an authentic Montessori school can exist in the public sector. I believe that testing will continue to be addressed as a challenge in regards to authenticity but I believe the approach of the school could help with this concern. At the public Montessori that I worked for, our approach to sharing testing results with parents was to explore the strengths and weaknesses of the child on a deeper level in order to help develop a more individualized curriculum that meets the need of the child. Standardized testing will certainly be an ongoing debate but I do believe there are public Montessori schools out there that are doing it “right.” That being said, I always recommend parents to visit Montessori schools and ask questions. By doing this, the parents can select the right fit for their family and Montessori beliefs.

      • laureen
      • June 19, 2016
      Reply

      There are two brilliant public Mntessori Adolescent Programs in Victoria, Angela. One at Templestowe College (Melbourne) and one at Beechworth Secondary College in the beautiful north east. I founded (and lead) the Beechworth program. Guided by AMI/NAMTA trained staff (to be adolescent level) and following the Montessori National Curriculum (as approved by ACARA), we have an authentic, amazing and vibrant community program in place. Feel free to get in touch sometime if you are interested in moving to this part of the country. We have people move from all over to access quality Montessori from birth – 12 at the Beechworth Montessori School, then 12-15 in MAP @ Beechworth Secondary College.

  4. Reply

    This is a great story…I know hundreds of children who share Katie’s experience. I jumped headlong into Montessori (in 1978) because of my academically-gifted son and never looked back. Now, 37 years later, both of my children have forged their own successful lives and are making sure their children have that same foundation. In fact, my daughter now runs her own Montessori school (Country Life Montessori School) in Union Valley, TX. I cannot say enough about the benefits of a Montessori education and I will forever be grateful that God inspired Maria Montessori to lay down everything and follow the child!

      • AmandaAmanda
      • April 1, 2015
      Reply

      Such a great story Norma! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    • Stacy
    • September 3, 2015
    Reply

    We have two very successful public Montessori High Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio. Not charter, not private -but fully Public high schools. I believe they were the first in the US. The programs are fantastic, and I believe that Maria Montessori would certainly approve of the methods and the education. Our kids do very well in post-secondary schools.

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