For seniors at Greenville High School, the beginning of the second semester is a time to start counting the days left before graduation. For everyone else, however, it is a time to start thinking about next year’s schedule. Over the next two months, students in grades 8 thru 11 will be starting the process of scheduling classes for the 2016-17 school year. Here are a few things parents and students should consider as they start to build their schedules:
1) Every High School Class Matters! The first, and most important, thing to remember is that almost two-thirds of the credits a student needs to earn a diploma are determined by both the Board of Education and the State of Ohio. Students will need four Language Arts credits, four Math credits, three Social Studies credits, three Science credits, a Fine Arts credit (Art or Music), a half-credit of Health (one semester), and a half-credit of Physical Education (two semesters). That’s sixteen of the twenty-two credits a student needs to graduate.
In our new schedule, students have seven class periods in which they can take classes. In four years, that allows for twenty-eight class periods, which should be more than enough periods to gather the twenty-two credits a student needs. Most of these classes, however, build upon the ones from the previous year.
So if you fail a class, you may not be prepared to take the next class in that discipline. At the same time, you have to give up a class period in your schedule next year to make up the class you failed last year. So, if you fail Language Arts 9, you don’t have seven periods for your sophomore year; you have six, plus Language Arts 9 again. This can cause a student to be unable to take a desirable elective in order to re-take a class that should have been passed the previous year. So it is important to remember that whatever classes you choose, your paramount goal is to make sure that you pass all the classes on your schedule.
2) Know Your Foundation Classes. Many of our Career Technical programs have what are called “Foundation Classes.” Foundation Classes are a way for students to get a feel for the program they might want to pursue. In some cases, however, they are required for future participation in a Career Technical program. Foundation Classes also serve as an elective, and can help students fulfill their elective requirements for graduation.
3) Watch Out for Classes that Have Prerequisites. By the time students reach their junior year, they may find that advanced classes have some sort of prerequisite. Prerequisites can be as simple as having earned a minimum grade in a particular class, or as complex as going through an audition or a meeting with the instructor.
This may not seem important to incoming freshmen, or next year’s sophomore, but it can help your student make a good choice when it comes to scheduling. Even though you are looking at next year, it is a good idea to think about what you might want to do in two (or three) years, so that you can take classes now that will make it easier to take other classes in the future.
4) You Will Have to Make Choices. Because of the limited resources we have and because some classes are attractive to only a small number of students, there may be times when your student will have to choose between two classes that he or she wishes to take. When this happens, difficult choices must be made.
When faced with this situation, students need to seek the counsel of the teachers teaching the conflicting classes, their guidance counselor, and their parents. Ask for help in identifying the positives and negatives of each choice. Consider why each class is attractive to you as a student. The key is to understand WHY one class is more important to you over the other one. If you have valid reasons for your choice, you can know that the choice you made was a good one. Ultimately, you may find yourself having to choose one class over another.
5) College Credit Plus is Good – IF You Are Ready to Work Hard. With the adoption of the College Credit Plus program, students can now earn college credit and Greenville High School credit at the same time in a single class. These classes, however, are much more rigorous than a traditional high school class. Students thinking about attending college should consider taking a College Credit Plus class, but only if they are ready to do college-level work at a college level pace. And consider this: a student who does not successfully complete a College Credit Plus course will have to pay the tuition for that class him- or herself. Before you sign up for a College Credit Plus course, make sure that you have talked with both your guidance counselor and the College Credit Plus teacher with whom you are thinking about working. Make sure that you are ready to take on a College Credit Plus class.
6) Career Tech Programs Are For Students at ALL Levels. There was a time when the phrase “Vocational Student” was thought of as a sort of code for “that kid isn’t college material.” This is certainly not the case for the Career Technical programs at Greenville High School. Our Career Tech program offers opportunities for students to be trained in a wide range of fields, many of which will lead a student into college studies.
These programs can also prepare students to move right into the workforce, offering students the chance to earn industry-standard credentials that make access to a number of jobs easier. Most of these classes, however, require a two-period class commitment in your junior and senior year, which means that having room to schedule them can be difficult. So, students should make sure that they look at these programs, even as a freshman, to make sure they are getting as many required classes and electives completed in their first two years as possible.
Keeping these things in mind will help you and your student put together a schedule that not only meets your student’s graduation requirements, but that will also help him or her prepare for life after high school.
Torrence is the Greenville Senior High School Assisstant Principal. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author