Students head back to school next week, and that no doubt has parents thinking about what they need to do to get kids off to a good start.
So this week, we asked Midlands area teachers to share their wisdom to help parents do just that. Some of it is grade-specific, some more general.
Today, we feature Scott Auspelmyer, National Social Studies Teacher of the Year and lead teacher for Honors Forum at Richland 2's Blythewood High.
What wisdom would you impart to rising seniors so that they may take full academic and social advantage of their last year of high school? What advice would you offer to help them prepare for life after high school?
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Traditionally students have viewed their senior year of high school to be a time for celebration of their progression to the end of their academic career on the K-12 level of schooling.
Unfortunately, this celebration often manifests itself in the form of extended relaxation. The majority of senior students have shorter school days, many either arriving late to school or leaving early due to having to take fewer classes since they had completed most of their graduation requirements in previous years. Thus, senior year becomes a focal point for social, rather than academic activity.
Although it is true that many students take this opportunity to become employed in part-time jobs, these are often directed at their need for money to spend on social events rather than more beneficial career oriented pursuits.
While students certainly should celebrate their progress toward the milestone in their lives that is high school graduation, they should view their senior year as one of opportunity rather than complacency or relaxation. Those intending to go on to college in the years following high school should challenge themselves academically. They can do this by testing themselves by taking rigorous coursework that simulates the collegiate experience, such as Advanced Placement courses or dual-credit courses offered by many high schools in conjunction with local colleges or universities.
Not only do these courses make students look better to the colleges they wish to apply, but the rigor of the coursework will force them to develop skills that can help them be successful in college. They should think about their future aspirations in the form of what careers they may be interested in pursuing and take electives in subject areas that will assist them in learning more about those careers, such as psychology, sports medicine, or business.
Those who do intend to hold jobs during their senior year should seek out opportunities in areas that they plan to pursue for their future careers. For example, interning at a law office, hospital, or construction company can give students great insight into whether or not a career in that field is something in which they are truly interested.
The danger of being complacent during your senior year can also translate into future problems following graduation. Whether one is embarking on two or more years of college or entering the workforce, the habits developed during the final year of high school can have long lasting repercussions.
Those who are motivated and challenge themselves, regardless of academic ability, often find the transition after high school to be very manageable and a successful experience. Their desire to learn or become part of the workforce encourages them to move forward and engage in opportunities for advancement. Unfortunately, many who do not see the opportunity present in their senior year can find themselves developing poor habits that often resign them to becoming confused and frequently dependent upon others, namely their families, to motivate their pursuit of future aspirations.
Each year I encounter numerous students who declare their intent to go to college or enter the workforce, but have not applied for college by the time they graduate or have not looked into the requirements that their intended careers demand.
Students need to know that their future is what they make of it. Their senior year is the transition not only from high school and into life, but the transition to becoming an adult and taking responsibility for themselves. Seniors need to seek out the opportunities and make the most of their senior year. A challenging, and therefore rewarding, senior year will give students even more reason to celebrate their accomplishments upon graduation.
- Compiled by Carolyn Click