When Kiki was a sophomore in high school she nearly broke for a little bit. Utah is strange in that freshman year is spent at the junior high school. Sophomore year is when the kids start high school and the switch was really rough on Kiki. It was so rough that we found ourselves in a school administrator’s office saying that we wanted Kiki to drop out of one of her classes so that she could get extra sleep. The administrator advised against it. Making up lost school credit is difficult. But we chose the option which allowed Kiki to retain a good life balance for that year even though we knew it could adversely affect her later.
When Kiki was signing up for classes for her junior year, her teacher gave her a slip of paper saying that her next math class should be pre-calculus. Those teacher recommendations were spoken of as edicts in the group scheduling meeting. “You must sign up for the math class that your teacher recommends.” Except that we had spent all of sophomore year struggling with Algebra 2. Kiki only survived it because an adult friend came over and tutored her at least once per week. We could not picture Kiki having a happy year if pre-calculus was part of her life. I was very ready to get off of the math emotional roller coaster. So we put Kiki into accounting. It was not college prep. It would not help with her ACT. But it filled a math credit and was likely to be very useful for her long-term life plans. We chose what was right for her growth at that time instead of for an imagined future.
The moment kids hit high school, it seems like everything is aimed at getting them into college. I know much of this effort is because some kids do not think of the future at all unless someone really gets in their faces. It is good for kids to have an inkling of the big picture, yet it is more important that they make choices based on what they need to develop as knowlegable human beings rather than because it will look good on a college application. The truth is that kids who are living life fully and who are growing and developing will look good on a college application. They may not get into high-pressure schools, but then maybe a high-pressure school is not the best choice for their ongoing growth and learning.
Despite the fact that Kiki had to make up a credit and that she took accounting instead of pre-calculus, Kiki made it into college. She even got a scholarship. The school she entered was only medium competitive to get in, and she is very happy there. It is exactly the school that she needs.
I keep this all in mind as I’m helping Link figure out what classes he should take next year. There are so many factors to weigh, because I want to foster current growth while not closing off future possibilities. Yet I find that I don’t have to carry that “won’t get into college” panic, because I know that we’ll find ways to make things work so that he can keep growing through high school and beyond.