Are Teens Prepared for the Real World?

October 15, 2009

(NewsUSA) – Between balancing classes and after-school
activities Raymond Perez, 17, is as busy as ever. He is one of millions of high-school students
preparing for the next step in life. Unfortunately, many U.S. students are not learning skills
necessary to succeed in college and the workplace.

The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that only 34 percent of high-school
graduates are ready for college. Additionally, after-school programs have been reduced due to
budget cuts — even as studies reveal that they help prepare teens like Perez for life after high
school. The University of Washington's Center for Information & Society examined the impact of
Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Club Tech program, sponsored by Microsoft.

"Many lower- and middle-income students don't have access to enriching after-school
activities like Club Tech," said Joe Sullivan, the study's lead author. "As schools have geared
curricula toward core academic competencies, organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs fill an
important void."

From writing a research paper to creating video resumes, kids and teens learn how
technology can help them perform better in school and expand their future career

"Club Tech is more than just providing computers. We give kids and teens an
opportunity to engage with technology in a way that builds confidence and real-world skills," said
Karen MacDonald, vice-president, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Perez has participated in Club Tech at Boys & Girls Clubs of Denver for two years. Beyond
developing Web and graphic design skills, he's served as a leader and learned the importance of
teamwork — nontechnical abilities that play a crucial role in his future. In fact, he's started
his own small business offering affordable Web and graphic design services.

"I love the unlimited creativity involved in Web design," said Perez. "I've been
able to increase my creativity and design skills. It was a challenge in the beginning, but being
encouraged by my technology advisor really made me push for the sky."

The technology access that kids get outside of school is an important complement to
classroom learning. Through Club Tech, high-school students get to harness technology in a way that
makes them more literate in current affairs and other topics that spill over from school.

"With the right resources, all teens have the potential to be great scholars, entrepreneurs
and leaders in our communities," added MacDonald.