Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The College Gig and AP Classes

I recently discovered this new site that offers advice on finding the right fit for college.  It is called College Gig.  Check it out.

It is run by Lisa Olson who says,

"Getting into college is one task, but staying in college is an entirely different beast.  I am committed to educating families about balancing priorities and equipping students with the tools required to manage the complex transition out of the secure nest and into college life."

Her latest post is about how getting perfect grades is no longer good enough for aspiring college freshmen.  Check out her post here.

She references a current SF Chronicle article called "Stressful AP Courses - A Push for a Cap."

My own experience with AP classes is this:  I never took an AP class in high school, but I did take one AP English exam.  I didn't do well on it.  I'm not a good test taker.  I attended into two Big Ten schools - Indiana University and University of Michigan even without any APs in high school.

My oldest son has taken one AP class in high school.  He is currently taking it and seems to be getting a lot out of the class content.  Will he do well on the AP test?  It really doesn't matter to me.  I do see him enjoying the material and possibly getting interested in it as a future college major - Environmental Sciences.  If he walks out of this AP class with a better understanding of our environment and an interest in being kinder to our planet, I'll be thrilled, whether or not he continues with this in college.

I also see him doing a lot of homework for this class.  I'm not surprised.  AP classes are billed as classes in which students are expected to do more work.  My hope is that the work load won't squash his interest in the class.  It probably wont, because he isn't taking multiple demanding AP or honors classes.

When I served on our district's homework policy task force, we debated adding this line to the policy:

"AP, Honors, and Advanced courses are higher level classes and will require more extensive homework."

I did NOT want that line included in the policy.  I didn't get what I wanted.  I was outnumbered by others on the task force who thought it must be included.

But, I was happy with other lines from the policy, such as:

"Though communication within a high school setting is challenging due to larger numbers of students, staff, and course offerings, staff should make efforts whenever possible to be aware of homework, projects, and testing schedules across the curriculum...

Time spent on homework should be balanced with the importance of personal and family well-being, and the wide array of family obligations experienced in our society today...

Homework should be the result of collaborative efforts, thoughtfully considered, and coordinated to improve student learning...

Homework should be purposeful and meaningful to students...

Assigning homework over holidays is highly discouraged."

So, check out the College Gig, it's another good website that tries to balance real life with academics and offers good advice for students applying to college.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that there needs to be three tracks offered in US Public High Schools so the students can follow paths based on their gifts w/more support than currently offered.

    The three tracks could be:


    such as sports, theater, dance, debate, art

    Apprentice or Mentoring
    very broad and rich with oppt. trade school to business start-ups to non-profit work, limitless.

    Our culture has poo-poo'd the performance and apprentice tracks as "low income" or "going nowhere" choices but that is not true. So most kids struggle trying to fit into a "box" that they are not entirely cut-out for...but without other options struggle they must.

    The rate of young, unemployed college graduates bogged down with big college loans should be speaking to us.

    What is the current drop-out or failure rate of Freshman at Colleges now? At big public universities -- I saw this at ASU in the 80's -- it was probably b/w 40-60%. Most of the kids in my dorm were not at ASU for Sophmore year. They failed.

    If kids think it's tough to get into school they need to be prepared that it's even tougher to stay-in school. Kids going to college need to know what they are getting into. AP Courses are an excellent example of what is expected at the college level.

    That's not to say that every kid is a candidate for an AP course load. To bring it full circle, we need to work with kids to help them find balance, identify their passions/strengths and create confidence that they can carry on into their adult careers.