By: Isabelle Thorp, Neva Jane Maldonado, Olivia Bresnicky, Ruby Buczkowski
Core classes: required classes that allow students to dip their feet in nearly every subject available at B-CC to discover their academic interests. What about students who’ve already discovered their interests? They should be allowed to dive deep into their narrow list of specific interests. How can this be done? Rearranging core classes.
As students progress at B-CC, their schedules become more flexible and they have more opportunities to choose their courses. Consequently, more classes are available to upperclassmen. Freshmen have little control over their schedule and many of them end up enrolling in classes in which they have no interest, compared to juniors or seniors who have completed more credits. Required classes provide students, especially underclassmen, a glimpse into every subject and the chance to discover their interests. But what about students who have already discovered their interests?
B-CC junior Norah Swatland is one of these students. She is interested in mechanical engineering and wants to pursue a career in the field. She credits B-CC’s engineering pathway courses with helping foster her interest in the field and narrowing down the type of engineering she’d like to study. She believes all students, regardless of grade level, should be given the same opportunity to focus on their interests through accelerated classes.
“Having to take particular [required] courses instead of ones more affiliated with my interests has held back my ability to expand upon my knowledge of my own interests,” said Swatland.
If Norah already knows her interests, why should she have to count the cracks in the ceiling tiles in English class? Students like her, with a strong interest in a specific field, should be able to sit down with their counselors and discuss adjusting their schedule to better incorporate their interests.
We are not arguing to get rid of English classes at B-CC. No one is saying Norah shouldn’t know how to structure an essay. All students will still know the basics of math, grammar, and sciences with core classes as some subjects will be off limits to eliminate. Instead we are arguing she shouldn’t be forced to scrape her toes in the shallow end of every subject known to man while her eyes are on a perfect dive into the deep end of mechanical engineering. She should be able to take out a select few required classes from her schedule so she can make space for classes that focus on her main passions. If a student like Norah wants to focus on STEM classes, she should be allowed to take out a required art or literature class from her schedule.
Yes, we have already considered the counterargument: slackers will sprint to their counselor to request enrollment in Health or Yoga for 4 years straight. The requirement of enduring a face-to-face (or worse: a Zoom) interaction with a counselor will likely prevent this. If not, a counselor equipped with a large notepad, many questions about specific career interests, and maybe even a form to fill out will send slackers running so fast their last semester papers fly out of their backpacks. Students like Norah looking to further a specific interest should be given an opportunity to do so. And students who don’t reach out to counselors with the same hope will remain subject to the current required classes and the graduation requirements.
The documented interview process makes it nearly impossible for students to lie their way through it. Suddenly confessing your love of rocket science to your counselor will likely result in a response like “how interesting. You’ve never taken a single class, enrolled in a club, or expressed any interest in this before at all.” The student would now nervously smile as they wonder if their counselor can hear their heartbeat too or see the sweat building upon their forehead. The words “counselor’s office” will result in heart palpitations for years to come.
A formal process will be effective in allowing only students with a genuine academic or career interest to rearrange their required classes and schedules to pursue them. Counselors and students will together decide how much of a student’s schedule will be rearranged and find in-school opportunities like clubs and programs that align with a student’s interests.
Yes, core classes provide students with a glimpse of a variety of subjects, which can be helpful in discovering what both interests and disinterests them. However, students like Norah who’ve already discovered their interests and are looking to further pursue them shouldn’t have to adjust to required classes in their schedules, their schedules should adjust to them.