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.
Katie 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.