March 15, 2015 – 9:05 pm
High school doesn’t have one single path. That’s a fact that many students, including myself, don’t find out until it’s too late.
When I first got to school, I was so overwhelmed with just the classes I could choose from that I didn’t even bother to look into the different methods that the courses were offered in. I immediately signed up for the classes everyone else took, without thinking about what’s right for me. Today, in my senior year, I realize that if I had just researched a little more, I could’ve found the perfect academic path for myself. There are so many alternative ways to take high school classes that can actually benefit your learning as well as your GPA.
The first alternative method is Independent study. I had only learned about this when one of my friends signed up for an American Government class senior year with independent study. Under this method, the student meets with a teacher, one-on-one, for approximately half an hour to an hour a week to go over work that was done at home. This self-study technique is much more self-directed, and the student is able to focus his studies in order to maximize his efficiency. Students who don’t typically learn well in a group environment and feel as though they have enough self-control to learn material on their own often find that independent study is the best way for them to complete certain courses. If you feel as though you’re one of them, check with your high school to see what courses are available to take under the Independent Study program.
The second method is online courses. Much like Independent Study, online courses are for self-disciplined, independent learners. Students will usually get material to print out and complete while interacting with online instructors. Exams are administered online or at the high school, depending on the course. Check with your high school to make sure that the school does give you credit for those courses.
The last alternative method is Early/Middle College programs. This method provides the student, in 10th-12th grade, with an opportunity to receive his high school diploma and receive a significant amount of college credit. This program is held on college campuses, usually community colleges. Early/Middle College is designed for students who don’t feel as though regular high school is right for them yet are able to keep up with academic curriculum. Students take both high school and college-level courses during this program while not having to pay college tuition. I personally know a number of students who chose to go to Early/Middle College and have told me many good things about it.
There are so many ways to take high school classes without technically being in a high school class. A little research goes a long way, and by finding the right method, the student can get the right education that will benefit her the most. The most important thing is to check with your high school to make sure that they accept the credits from the various alternative methods. Many students actually raise their GPAs because they are able to learn at their own pace in a way that’s right for them. That raise in GPA not only shows what the student is capable of learning, but it also gives the student a wider range of colleges to choose from.
This is a guest post by Noa Livneh, a high school senior in the San Francisco Bay Area.
March 3, 2015 – 10:52 pm
The social dynamics of high school have never been simple. No matter who you are, or when you went to high school, there have always been more than enough things to make a person incredibly self conscious. From your looks to your actions, a high school setting is basically brimming with people who are ready to pick you apart—including yourself.
And in addition to the classic troupe of 80’s pop culture—where the academically inclined “losers” vie for acceptance from the pretty, cool athletes who rule the school—you’ve probably dealt with the intense academic competition if you graduated from high school within the last 10 years or so. There’s a pervading pressure to be “the whole package,” a sporty, attractive, straight-A genius, both to earn respect from peers and teachers and to gain admittance to the most prestigious colleges.
Obviously, such high expectations yield a lot of pressure, and a lot of pressure can break a person, particularly a developing, teenage, high school-person.
The competition can be crushing. And besides feeling an incredible internal drive to be the best, you’re probably even more annoyed by the endless competitive talk among your peers. Privacy is not a commodity in high school, and there are really no secrets amongst your classmates.
Conversations are frequently dominated by talk of test scores, grade points and leadership accomplishments. Everyone and their mother (literally) want to size you up by the numbers.
And though impressive stats are certainly no small feat, every day I’m astonished by how all the data that seemed to define my classmates in high school has thus far turned out to be a very poor indicator of success. At the time, it seemed like being an academically well-rounded individual was the holy grail. But ultimately, high scores in all sections of the SAT won’t carry you far in life—only a legitimate passion can do that.
I know, that sounds so cheesy. And I know that you’ve heard it before. Passion is a pretty prominent buzzword when it comes to the college game. But the passion that I’m referring to doesn’t have to be a great love from the day one, nor should it be. All passion starts as an interest, which is carefully and painstakingly developed over a long period of time.
So don’t stress too much and don’t waste your time comparing yourself, your grades or your resume to those around you, but simply strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Though high test scores and grade points will look great on your college application, they won’t carry you far in life. Instead, learn, live and actively involve yourself in the world around you. Your actions in the real world will comprise a much more essential piece of your identity, and earn you much more, than any standardized test ever could.