Should schools set the foundation for life?

September 29, 2020 4:23 PM

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Rows of school desks in rows in a dark classroom. Photo courtesy of Ruben Rodriguez from Unsplash.

Rows of school desks in rows in a dark classroom. Photo courtesy of Ruben Rodriguez from Unsplash.

You're in your first class of freshman year. Your teacher asks you what you would like to be as an icebreaker. Blood flows to your cheeks as you say “I don't know.” As high school goes on, many people tell you that you have time to decide.

Fast forward — it's your senior year of high school. You're applying for colleges still unsure of what you want to do. It's a scary thing applying to college when you're undecided.

Some friends have gotten the chance and experience to go to vocational schools and they tell me they have a lot of fun in the classes they take. My friend takes a nursing class and loves it. I wish I got to experience something like that at my school. Maybe I would have decided that I would also like to be a nurse more quickly. 

When I was in my freshman year of high school I never really knew what I wanted to do. I always was bouncing around in my head with different careers that never really interested me. If I had different career classes at my school, maybe I wouldn't have been so stressed about just settling for something. 

High school is the four years you spend some time getting to know yourself more. Many schools only have basic classes like writing, history, math, science, gym, and art. That's great and all, but how are just those classes going to help you figure out what you want to do after high school or give you that experience you may want?

When going into college, many kids don’t feel ready to jump into it or employment. This is especially prevalent in neighborhoods with primarily low-income or minority residents. Katherine Schulten, a writer for the New York Times, wrote, “American high schools once offered top-notch vocational and apprenticeship training, preparing young people for jobs like these. But over the last 70 years, our commitment to such education has waxed and waned, reflecting the country’s ambivalence about the role of school in preparing young people for employment and the value of blue-collar work itself .” 

Our school system is meant to educate us, not to leave us stranded for the real world. The fact that we have seen a decrease in these programs is concerning to hear. This does not mean that every student will end up lost in their lives, but it’s still unfair to students. Many kids who don’t have any guidance could end up spending money they didn't need to in college or end up taking jobs that they are not necessarily happy with.

There are schools that include programs that help with this. Jacquelyn BengFort, a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., wrote, “Fairfax County[, Virginia]’s CTE programs are an example of the growing push to offer students opportunities to explore career paths, earn industry credentials and college credits, and get real-world experience — all before completing high school.” This sounds like an amazing opportunity for young students to get their feet wet in some of their careers they may be interested in. If a student doesn't like something, it's OK to just move on to the next thing. I feel like trying new things like this is great for students. 

Some people feel that adding elective classes is a waste of time and money since schools have to spend the money to keep these classes and students may not like them. However, we should consider elective classes to fill the experience gap many high school students have when they graduate. Elena Plumb, a writer for  Huntington News, explains that since there has been a decrease in these life-based elective classes and programs we have seen a shift in this generation. “By overlooking education in said skills, academic institutions discredit their duty of preparation,” she wrote. “They inadequately equip their students for the world outside of the school bubble.” College is very different from high school and I don't know if schools don't know that or if they are choosing to not realize it. As much as it may seem like a waste, offering elective classes may not be. Having these classes could help our generation for the better and get us out of this “bubble” that Plumb mentions. We need something more than just our basic learning classes at school to prepare students for college and the real world.

We don't need to get rid of any of our essential classes, but schools should offer more electives to students that are career-based, like nursing classes, law enforcement classes, and corollary classes. These classes could be building blocks in helping to guide someone in the future. Schools should be more open to this idea because many of their main mottos are to help prepare students for college. Even if schools do not decide to add some of these classes or programs, they should try to get students more engaged in some way with career readiness.

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