Expanding educational opportunities beyond the classroom
During the four years that we are in high school, most of us receive a liberal arts education. We learn about a broad range of subjects, which helps us gain general knowledge and intellectual ability. There is a core curriculum that is required by the state and it is only once these requirements are filled, that we can stray off this predefined path and dive deeper into our educational interests. Freshman and sophomore year don't offer much exploration, since these are the years where most of us fulfill our prerequisites. During our junior and senior year, however, we finally get more
For me, growing up with a predilection for all things quantitative, these two years have consisted of classes oriented around mathematical subjects. I've been exposed to classes like calculus, statistics, physics and economics, all of which have laid the foundation for what I see as a future career in financial business. I have seen other students spend these two years taking courses in science, hoping to move toward a career in the medical field. Others have chosen to further their artistic ability, dreaming about their life on Broadway or as world renowned painters.
Our school offers us classes in almost any area we find interesting. We are provided with the necessary in-class resources that we need to succeed, but I wonder if we are given enough opportunities to learn outside of the classroom; to apply the skills we've learned in school in the real world.
Since I am currently in the middle of the college application process, I've begun to notice this shortage in our community. Each application asks what my preferred major is, and I usually put economics or finance, but I've never really been exposed to what this choice entails or know if these are the subjects that I want to shape my career. Yes, I have succeeded and found interest in my high school's classes that are oriented around these majors, but I've never been able to apply what I've learned to anything more than just an exam.
During recent college alumni interviews, I have been asked about the reasoning behind my major choice. They have wanted to know what experiences I have had that have led me to this selection, or what it was that made me want to further my learning in this area. To be completely honest, I wish I could've come up with a better answer. Of course I was able to talk about taking the most rigorous classes in mathematics and finding joy in each challenge, but when it came to applying what I learned, I had fairly little to say.
Some colleges even ask students to choose what school they would like to enroll in within the college. Often times, these schools are very selective and for students who are uncertain about their future, it seems like a waste for them to take a spot if they may need to switch later. My sister, now a sophomore in college, recently found that her interests were more oriented toward a different school within her college. When she was a freshman, she did not think she would end up having to switch between schools but her goals changed, and the transfer process was very difficult for her. Although colleges make it seem like you can enter as an open book, I've found that this is not entirely true, they do expect some kind of certainty.
I believe that our community, in order to better prepare students for college or the work force, should offer more educational opportunities outside of the classroom. School teaches us the necessary skills we need to enter the real world, but if we've never been able to truly apply them, how do we know we will be successful? How can we know what we want to do with our lives based solely off of the classes we take in high school? Whether it is businesses offering internships at younger ages, schools creating clubs that allow students to better apply what they've learned, or organizations developing classes where applications can be tested, something should be done. Schools need to connect with communities who should be willing to volunteer or donate their resources in order to help students discover their interests. There needs to be a greater effort dedicated to constructing extracurricular activities that underwrite students' future goals because although we can explore in college, schools anticipate that we have some idea of what we expect to study.
As a senior, and someone who is about to enter college and the work force, I am almost past the time where these real world examples could be helpful in directing my future college decisions. I do hope that younger generations are given more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom and further their educational interests. In college I know that I will be given many chances to pursue my passions and test my abilities but from my experience, if more had been offered to prepare me for this in high school, I think that applications and future planning would have been easier and more certain.
Samantha Monello is a senior
at Wilsonville High School.