As the Class of 2019 prepared to take their biggest step in education yet by entering their freshman year of high school, news broke that they would be getting a benefit no other class before them had gotten – every single student was receiving their own personal iPad. In an effort to make the entire school district 1 to 1, each student would have a device to do school work on.
But, as we current seniors would learn, it was almost as if the iPads came in a trade-off. Yes, we were, at the time, excited about the devices, but the Class of 2019 would also be burdened with new graduation requirements that those who left Portage High School before us had managed to avoid. To earn that elusive diploma, students would now have to accrue 40 hours of community service, pass ISTEP+, and take two more specific courses – Personal Finance and Preparing for College and Careers.
Preparing for College and Careers is a mockery of a class that does little for students but clog their schedules and create an unnecessary amount of extra work.
According to the Portage High School course description, “Preparing for College and Careers addresses the knowledge, skills and behaviors all students need to be prepared for success in college, career, and life.” In reality, most of the time spent in class is spent taking aptitude tests that may or may not give the student an idea of what they want to do. The tests, which not only cover possible job fields, but also possible college fits and integrity levels, give broad options that do not match a student despite what the test says. The integrity test is an absolute joke – it asks questions to test whether or not you are a good person by asking things like if you would report a coworker for stealing plastic utensils from the workroom. The answer is obvious, and whether or not you would report them is irrelevant if you are only looking to score high.
The most important things covered in Preparing for College and Careers are not even unique teaching specific to the class. Things like resumes, cover letters, job interviews and possible career options for students are covered in the very first unit of Personal Finance alone, and teachers often discuss the same things in Tribe Time or their classes. The more important tools for college readiness are often overlooked. Perhaps the most important piece of knowledge for applying to school is the Common App, which allows you to apply to any of 800 schools in the same application, was never even mentioned in the class.
Preparing for College and Careers bars the students from more important opportunities- whether they are classes a student wants to take to advance their possible career or classes a student takes because they enjoy it, PCC uses up a semester that can not be used for anything else. Students on track to graduate with an honors diploma are particularly muffed; after scheduling core classes and their foreign language class, there are only four semesters remaining, and honors students often are involved with band, orchestra, choir, ROTC or even pubs. Often, the only option for these students is to take it over the summer, ruining both their time off from school and their GPA.
For these students who push themselves, the school can only provide one fair option – providing a test than allows an opt out for the class. While this is unlikely due to the class now being a state required graduation course, the pretest should determine whether the student needs to take the class or not. Anything above 90% should prove the student is prepared for college and careers, allowing freedom in the schedule and time for more opportunities leading to success.