Required classes: Setting us up for success or failure?

Jack Burton, Reporter

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There is no doubt that through generations, high school has changed in many ways, but one that remains controversial is the number of required classes students have to take to be eligible to graduate.

Currently, the number of required credits is 24 to be able to graduate on time.  This includes four years of English, two years of science which is usually Biology and Chemistry. Three years of math class which is Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry.  Three years of social studies which are Regional World Studies, U.S History, and Civics where you have to pass the constitution test as another graduation requirement. A couple of others being one year of health, four years of P.E. and one year of a consumer education class.  

Though this is the list of all the required classes, it doesn’t mean students can take them all in one year because most of them have prerequisites which means students have to take one class before they can take the next. For example, in English, a student would have to take both semesters of English 1 before the sophomore year and then take both semesters of English 2.   The way Unit 5 has made the requirements by doing it this way ensures that students will be busy taking a couple of these required classes every year of their high school careers while they also take up a good portion of scheduling and openings for electives.  

This brings up the debate of why exactly students are required to take them since not everyone goes down the same path in the future, whether that be the work force or college.  Eric Dolan, a senior, said this about the required classes: “For me personally, I never wanted to go to college so most of the required classes made no difference to me. Not to say they don’t help others, but those that know they don’t want to pursue some of the fields that these classes deal with should not have to take them because it takes up their time when they could be taking classes that actually affect them like more hands-on classes versus sitting in a desk.”  Though there are hands-on classes for various fields, sometimes by the time students get to the junior and senior year they don’t have time to take those classes because of how much of every student’s day is taken up by the required classes. 

Though it is true, many of these required classes will contribute to most colleges, it also puts pressure on students that make them think they have to go to college to have a good life.   In fact, only 12 percent of students don’t end up going to college and tend to come from backgrounds of agricultural or any prior work that does not require a college degree. This also leaves students with less time for work and to experience jobs that may interest them in the future. 

For example, here at West, we have the BACC program which allows students to learn about certain professions, but the catch is it takes up three class periods at West. Therefore, required classes will always come first no matter if students want to take them or not, and any class that they may want to take they might get to take if there is still room in their schedule for that particular class.

Overall, making students take certain classes is not helping them and in some cases, it is even hurting them by taking away possibilities that could have been.  Though it is important to realize that it is not the teachers’, guidance counselors’, or administration’s fault; they do not get to decide what is required and what is not. That is decided by the school district and the state guidelines.