To take honors or not to take honors…

Every spring, students must make decisions about their upcoming school year. Students must sign up for courses and decide whether to take honors or academic classes. At BASH, unlike at other high schools, prerequisites are not required. So it is up to the student to decide. So, what specifically is the difference between an honors and academic class anyway? Taking an honors class can help students get into and do better in college. However, students should consider if they can handle the increased rigor and workload before signing up.

After graduating, most students hope to continue their education in college. More than 65 percent of students who graduate high school go on to college, according to the United States Department of Labor. Taking challenging classes can help students get into college, as many colleges do not simply look at a student’s GPA and make a decision from there. These colleges want to know exactly which classes are making up a student’s GPA. Mark Montgomery, a leading educational consultant, advises students against taking easier classes in order to boost a GPA.“The fact is, you cannot hoodwink an admissions officer into seeing only a higher GPA. Admissions professionals are well-trained to identify the story behind the transcript,” Montgomery explains.

On the other hand, taking too many rigorous classes can be detrimental to a student’s high school success. Students should be careful not to take classes that exceed their learning capabilities and lead them to fail a course.  Stanford University shares their expectations of high school course selections when they say, “The students who thrive at Stanford are those who are genuinely excited about learning, not necessarily those who take every single AP or IB, Honors or Accelerated class just because it has that name.”

Honors classes usually require more time at home spent working on homework assignments. Sophomore Christina Strobel said that she spends “three to four hours” working on homework assignments for her honors classes just about every night. Another sophomore, Aubrey Valinote, said it only takes her about “10 minutes” to complete homework assignments for her academic classes.

Of course, this drastic difference in study time may be due to the fact that students work at different paces. Mrs. Jacqueline Leslie, an honors and academic physics teacher, said, “The amount of time needed is dependent upon the student’s understanding of the material.”

In addition to more homework, honors classes also generally have more rigorous curriculums than academic classes, which could better prepare them for college. In math, for example, “The honors curriculum dives into more detail on certain concepts and presents more challenging mathematical problems,” says Mrs. Leslie, who teaches both honors and academic classes.

The bottom line is students should  figure out what they are capable of and how much effort they are willing to put into their school work before choosing classes for an upcoming school year.

Choosing a course is a big commitment, so students should choose wisely.