Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The High School Courses Students Need For College???

In today's Washington Post, college admissions consultant Bruce Vinik, president of Vinik Educational Placement Services, writes about "The High School Courses Students Need For College".

In his article, Mr. Vinik states:

"Outside of grades, nothing is more important in college admissions than the classes kids take in high school."

"Let’s start with the basics. Colleges expect students to take at least five core academic subjects every year of high school -- English, social studies, science, math and foreign language.

"Beyond the basics, most colleges expect students to challenge themselves in the classroom by doing advanced course work when it is available in their schools."

"For ninth and tenth graders, this typically means taking honors courses or the occasional Advanced Placement (AP) course; for eleventh and twelfth graders, this means AP or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes."
Personally, I think that perhaps college admissions officers should reevaluate their admissions criteria given that less than 50% of students who start college ever graduate.

Why doesn't anyone ever challenge the notion of the so-called "core curriculum" and how those courses mostly operate in a vacuum?

The core curriculum concept was developed in 1893 by a "Committee of Ten". Shouldn't we perhaps at least examine some new educational possibilities now that it is the year 2010?

I have been teaching high school computer-aided-design (CAD) classes for over 20 years. Almost every one of my students that have gone on to become successful engineers and architects who I remain in contact with have credited my courses as some of the most valuable classes they took in high school or college.

Classes such a CAD or other technical courses have the potential to be an excellent vehicle for delivering important concepts taught in "core" classes while making those concepts relative to "real life" ideas that many students can relate to.

Furthermore, I have been told that many college admissions guidelines discard grades earned in classes like CAD and only consider the "core" classes.

I just believe that we are doing a disservice to many of our intelligent students who have much potential by trying to always force them into "cookie-cutter" curriculum ideas especially when it come to college admission guidelines.

Might this be one of the reasons for the current college dropout rate?


Bill said...

I couldn't agree more. It would appear that the elite academicians just want to perpetuate elitism not improve learning and all that entails for the 21st century. Politicians just blindly follow along.

Jim said...

Couldn't agree more also. I think you are absolutly right on target. It is a great disservice to our students that we let such out of date and touch with the real world ideas drive what we do in K-12