As registration approaches, students may be wondering if it’s time for a switch. Maybe the same high school classes are tiring, or school is taking up too much time and it is necessary to be able to balance a job as well, or maybe the students just need a different experience than the high school classroom. There are options.
Starting sophomore year, high school students can start taking Advanced Placement (AP), which are college-level classes. Students can earn college credit in high school if they pass the test at the end of the year. They can also take similar classes at the local community college.
Running Start is a program available for high school students who would normally be placed in college level classes. It allows teens to take classes at Walla Walla Community College and immerse themselves into the class and the campus, along with other college students.
“If you plan to take college classes, take it at the college, otherwise you get high school teachers teaching college courses. Also, at CC, you don’t have to pay to take AP test; you get the credit as long as you pass the class,” full-time Running Start student August Senter said. “I was enrolled in AP Psych at the high school, and now I’m taking Psych at CC and getting the same credit, but it will only take one quarter. I don’t see why more people don’t take advantage of it.”
Senter explained that he’s starting a new job soon. “Because of my CC schedule, I’m able to work from 12-3 p.m. every day. I made my schedule so I would be able to get out before noon and have the rest of my day to work, go to rehearsal, and get my homework done.”
Running Start students are allowed to tailor their own schedules to make room for jobs, extracurriculars and anything else that can help them further their education, as Senter did.
One problem with taking CC classes, however, is the rigor. For most, CC classes are more difficult than their corresponding AP classes. Since CC finishes a year course in only one quarter, there is much more homework, which could include longer essays, reading assignments, and several math assignments a night. For high schoolers who are advanced but not so advanced they’re ready to jump into the difficulty level of college, high school AP classes may be the perfect fit.
“I can stay in high school to get the full high school experience: choir, drama, friends, sports, while still getting a college level education. Also, AP classes look good on a college application, and I can still get a college credit if I pass the AP test,” junior Ashley Halazon said. Halazon is currently enrolled in three AP classes.
Every student has different experiences and different needs and not everyone requires the same learning environment. Taking AP classes in high school could be a good fit if students work best around others their own age or if a slightly slower pace and less homework is more appropriate. If students want an education with more freedom where they’re held accountable for their own actions, then CC might be the best fit, especially for pursuing a type of career path that requires more years of college.
“CC has been a very positive influence on me; it showed me what education is like outside of high school. Being on a college campus gave me a sense of freedom while still holding me responsible,” full-time Running Start student Cameron Haluska said.
It’s important to remember to take advantage of the opportunities that are available. There’s more than just high school out there.