I just read a great blog post by Katherine Price on application stress. Students question if they’ve taken the “right” courses, if all AP or IB classes are enough to get them admitted.
What I thought about is “are students learning in high school” and “are they having any fun?”
First, the pressure to take the most rigorous courses to be considered for admission to highly selective colleges cannot be underestimated. But it begs the question are students learning in those courses? Are they leaning to communicate, to write clearly, to think critically, to understand how one discipline approaches a problem or question differently from another? Or are they gathering facts designed to give them high scores on standardze tests or the AP tests that can get them college credit? Does the learning stick or does it disappear after the test is done?
I also wonder if we in admissions push students to take those AP courses in calculus and physics, chemistry and statistics and value them more than classes in the humanities and social sciences, as if those fields are less important to learning and academic advancement.
Finally, students need to have fun and not study every minute of every day. There is a great deal to be said about social and emotional maturity helping students make the most out college when they get there. If they don’t get that through high school experiences, through clubs and organizations (that they enjoy participating in rather than calculated resume building) or by hanging out with friends, when and where will they safely learn those skills. Plus fun and time away from studying rejuvenates and helps in learning (just like exercise gets blood literally flowing to your brain).
I wonder what can be done to lessen the stress to reasonable amounts for students who want to go to college, to encourage them to be great at something they love to learn about. What do you suggest?