Pity the high school senior who plans to attend college. Our legislators have made that kid's life hell.
High school students formerly had two lists of requirements to complete: a short list of courses required for a high school diploma and a slightly different and longer list for college admissions.
This has changed over the last three years. Olympia or Capital High School seniors have six additional requirements to achieve their high school diploma. All of this is in addition to the requirements mandated for college admissions.
Our legislators have imposed requirements that are of no interest to the college admission department. Admissions staff don’t care about WASL scores. They care about SAT scores. But our high school seniors must demonstrate mastery on both tests to graduate from high school and attend college.
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No college requires an applicant to have credits earned in health and P.E. But our legislators insist that everyone, even the swim team member plowing through a daily mile of water, has to have two years of health and P.E.
The current high school senior must also have completed a year of an art course. No, those guitar or ballet lessons don’t count. The student must select from a handful of openings and fulfill the art requirement.
Would you prefer to take a second year of chemistry or an advanced math class? Sorry, Charlie, it’s ceramics for you.
It doesn’t matter what your interests might be, the art requirement must be fulfilled.
The occupational education requirement was meant to make sure kids are employable, so legislators threw a year of occupational education onto the high school requirements list. We know a young man who had to drop out of his calculus class to fit in a class like espresso/smoothie store operations so he could graduate. Does this help the students of Washington get ready for tomorrow’s challenges?
Another requirement, “Navigation 101” could be a helpful tool for some students. But it is redundant material for students who have long known they are college bound.
The student who has solid career plans in place really doesn’t need coursework in goal setting or an interest survey or more mandated exercises in yet another decorated portfolio. The overcrowded navigation classes make meaningful discussions rare and individualized attention impossible.
Lastly, the road to hell is paved with the good intentions of the senior culminating project. For some students it will be a meaningful exercise.
It is not so for the 18-year-old who has already completed an Eagle Scout project, a state fair 4H project, a church service project or any number of other activities typical of the college bound teen.
It is one more requirement slammed into the senior year when students are at their busiest studying for their most challenging courses, completing college applications and are providing leadership to teams and clubs.
The culminating project can easily morph from a meaningful activity to a tripping hazard.
We have profoundly complicated the path to the high school diploma. Students need more options and much fewer inane requirements.
Ellen Rice is a homemaker and parent.