Choosing classes in high school can feel like a high-stakes game of Tetris. You’re trying to fit all the required courses into your schedule, while also trying to find time for extracurricular activities and maybe even a part-time job. And, if your school does arena scheduling, get prepared for the high school version of The Hunger Games, where a student’s future largely depends on quick reflexes and a steady internet connection and is often determined in six seconds flat.
It can be really tempting to take the easy route, one that is sprinkled with As and free weekends that allow sufficient time for all the other things that compete for time in a high schooler’s calendar. As an educator, I have seen many students take this route because ‘why not’?
I get it. I understand why this is attractive to young people. Unfortunately, taking the easy route is detrimental to future success.
As I counsel seniors on their next steps after high school, we often consider their course load, and I am often astounded by the lack of rigor they have pursued their senior year. These are seniors who are college bound. They have taken English IV, government, and economics in the summer because, in their opinion, it is easier, and by the number of students taking this course of study I do believe they are correct. Their senior year is riddled with late arrival and early dismissal and one or two core classes. When I challenge them to take AP courses or at the very least dual credit courses, they laugh. “Why would I want to do that? I want my senior year to be easy.”
The road to success is not paved with ‘easy’ bricks. How are students going to be ready to manage the rigor and self-control needed to be successful in university and in life? High school should be the training ground. As universities become more competitive, our students need to train harder. Yes. Train.
Students should take advantage of a full schedule of courses each semester. They should take classes that challenge them. Courses that make them uncomfortable. These classes will help them build their study and self-governing skills and stamina. In addition, a rigorous course of study enables them to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills, both of which are life skills not just skills in education. Students’ ability to handle rigorous courses parlays into the real world.
Do not let your students be comfortable. Challenge them. Train them for what they will encounter both in university and in the workforce. Enable your child to manage the stresses that will come.
If education is not supplying rigorous, challenging curriculum, then when will they learn how to manage challenging situations? How will they manage being accountable for the effort when it really matters?
Challenge your child to take the ‘hard’ course or the ‘hard’ teacher. Students will find, “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” – Booker T. Washington.
College Coach and Very Hard Worker