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High School honors classes vs "regular classes"

Started 1276651971.873 in Viewpoints | Last reply 1276740624.11 by beach-mom

Good evening all,

My oldest will be entering high school in the fall. I would like him to be in honors English, Geometry, History and Science. My son was in honors English and math this year and did fine. However, high school is a whole different ball game. I've heard this may be too much as one parent I know had to take her child out of an all honors schedule because it got a bit overwhelming. Our high school has a two semester schedule. The kids take 4 classes the first semester and the remaining 4 the second semester. Anybody gone through this? Advice, comments would be greatly appreciated.

TIA

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Emma Bunti­ng1276652105.4938606 PostsRegistered 3/26/2010

Colleges like to see as many honors classes as possible. Better a B in an honors class than an A in a standard class. The real question becomes ....how motivated is your son for all the extra work....and there usually is extra work...

" Anybody ready for dessert?"

kinda korny1276652191.6171186 PostsRegistered 12/10/2007WI

My daughter just finished her Freshman year of High School, taking all AP (advanced placement) courses, except the electives like Chorus and such. She did fine, maintaining a 3.6 GPA. She had more homework, needed more study time and the class was more challenging, but if she didn't take those classes I fear she would have been bored. It does depend on each specific child though too. Is he prepared for and willing to take on the extra work, does he have extra curricular activities or other community related commitments that might make it more difficult?

The truth is everyone is going to hurt you...you just have to decide who is worth the pain.


kinda korny1276652262.2971186 PostsRegistered 12/10/2007WI
On 6/15/2010 Emma Bunting said:

Colleges like to see as many honors classes as possible. Better a B in an honors class than an A in a standard class. The real question becomes ....how motivated is your son for all the extra work....and there usually is extra work...

That is also an excellent point, about the college comment!!

The truth is everyone is going to hurt you...you just have to decide who is worth the pain.


FABU1276652499.63119 PostsRegistered 4/14/2010The great state of Northern Virginia :)

Thank you for the responses EB and KK. I am familiar w/ AP classes because that is what I took in high school. These are pre-IB and IB classes. To answer some of your questions, he is in band and volunteers at the public library 2 hours a week. He is motivated for high school but one does not know how he will do when it is the "real deal".

Kinda korney, 3.6 in AP is impressive. I'm sure you are very proud of your daughter.

beach-mom1276652949.439474 PostsRegistered 8/1/2007Mid-Atlantic

I have. My youngest is just finishing his first year at a huge high school. He was an honor student in middle school, but we (he, my husband, and I) made the decision to put him in only one honors class this year and see how he did. We chose his favorite subject, social studies. We thought it might be too much with his extracurricular activities. His school is on block scheduling too. He does have friends who are in all honors classes. If they can handle it, that's great, but a lot of them are struggling. The honors classes at his school cover the same subject matter as the parallel classes, but they move at a faster pace. We think we made the right choice. He had twice as many projects in his class as his friends in the parallel class, and for him, that was enough. Also, he was able to enjoy the class and not get too stressed out about it.

As a teacher myself, I recommend you talk to his middle school counselor or principal. They will be honest about what things are like at your high school. Good luck! Let us know what you decide.

I'm strongly in favor of AP courses in upper high school, especially since that helps them with college. I think by then, with a few more years of maturity, they realize what they can or can't handle!

crdlb1276653033.60313042 PostsRegistered 6/24/2009So. Cal.

Tomorrow is our last day of school and my husband, myself and my son couldn't be happier! DS just finished his second year in an all honors magnet program and the workload and pressure are driving all of us crazy.

We can't enjoy semester breaks or holiday weekends because these are opportunities for piling on extra assignments--usually group projects so your child isn't even in complete control of the schedule. We went on a cruise for spring break and he had to take work with him. He has reading over the summer, along with papers to write about the books. He could be doing a math refresher, but he's going to be gone to Scout camp, so I shudder to think what will happen in math the first week of school next year.

What I will say is that he is getting an excellent education. There are 5000 students in his HS, and only 700 are in his program. And it's the only program like it in a district that has 25,000 high school students. He will be very prepared for college, but it's taking a toll on our family. If he wasn't an only child, I don't know how we'd cope.

Getting into a good university is very competitive, and a nationally recognized honors program will be helpful in getting the attention of the schools you are interested in. On the other hand, if your son's sights for college are not so high, I don't know that it is worth the pressure.

One of the hardest things about these programs is how driven some of the kids are, both by themselves and their parents. We told our son we would support him in being in the program if that was what he chose, but we frequently have to remind him that it was his choice. If it is your son's choice, I say let him go for it. If he isn't on that page, I say no way. It's a very tough, competitive, unrelenting road that requires your student to be committed. Good luck with coming to a decision, and know that there is no right answer, just what's right for your son.

beach-mom1276653136.5379474 PostsRegistered 8/1/2007Mid-Atlantic
On 6/15/2010 Emma Bunting said:

Colleges like to see as many honors classes as possible. Better a B in an honors class than an A in a standard class. The real question becomes ....how motivated is your son for all the extra work....and there usually is extra work...

Not necessarily - but sometimes. I'm a college instructor, and more and more colleges are looking for a well-rounded individual. The GPA does matter, as do SAT and ACT scores, but they want to see students who will give it their all. An "A" in a standard class will hold a lot of weight at most colleges.

Jabberjaw1276653174.353365 PostsRegistered 5/27/2009CA

My son is going to be a junior this year. His first two years of HS he took all honors classes and maintained a 4.4 GPA. He also plays on the Varisty basketball team, so it was a challenge at times. However, for his junior year because I know that it will be more difficult, I agreed to let him take a couple of regular classes. So, he is only taking 2 AP classes and 1 Honors.

I know that kids what to achieve, but you have to watch for burn-out. Some kids won't tell their parents and end up depressed or even worse. I am sure you guys recall the young lady in CA who was "supposed" to be graduating from UCLA? Well, she had been hiding the fact that she had dropped out after her frosh year and had not told her parents. How she fooled them for 3 years I don't know, but I am guessing this young lady had burned out, dropped out and could not face her parents.

kinda korny1276653337.421186 PostsRegistered 12/10/2007WI
On 6/15/2010 FABU said:

Thank you for the responses EB and KK. I am familiar w/ AP classes because that is what I took in high school. These are pre-IB and IB classes. To answer some of your questions, he is in band and volunteers at the public library 2 hours a week. He is motivated for high school but one does not know how he will do when it is the "real deal".

Kinda korney, 3.6 in AP is impressive. I'm sure you are very proud of your daughter.

Yes I am very proud of her! She has always been an excellent student and loves to learn. The only "bad" thing, if you can even consider this bad, is that her AP classes will not go toward college credit until she is a junior, so she can take them, but she really isn't getting anything "extra" out of them. She loves it though....I feel like this is definitely preparing her for college as she plans to pursue Vet school. Good luck with your son...I am sure whatever decision is made, will be the best for him and he will do fine. {#emotions_dlg.biggrin}

The truth is everyone is going to hurt you...you just have to decide who is worth the pain.


FABU1276654346.037119 PostsRegistered 4/14/2010The great state of Northern Virginia :)

Thank you all. You have given me a lot to think about. I do have messages out and am waiting for responses from his counselors for both middle school and high school.

CRDLBD, your post was very interesting to me. I do have three other children, one entering middle school next year and two still in elementary. I have to give some real thought to the time commitment.

greengem-1276654369.15939 PostsRegistered 3/1/2008

>An "A" in a standard class will hold a lot of weight at most colleges

Thanks beach-mom. I would never denigrate an A student.

FABU, can you and hubby and your son meet together with the school counselor? Best to you and your son. Smile

--

... and the sea will grant each new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home

srick tx12766558592054 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

I would let him make the decision. My daughter will be taking a couple AP courses next year, her senior year, but decided against them the past few years. She was involved in a lot of other activities (mainly drama) that took up so much of her time, that she didn't think she could do it all. Somehow she's managed all the extra curricular activities, a boyfriend the whole year, straights A's in her junior year (my hardest year of high school), even was honored with a departmental award, being the recipient of the US History award in her class of 500 juniors. She learned how to balance her schedule and is anxious for the challenge next year.

lulu21276656645.17320883 PostsRegistered 8/1/2007

I am a retired high school math teacher. Throughout my career, I taught a plethora of courses encompassing most ability levels. My final ten years I taught honors trig and analysis as well as AP calculus. We were on block scheduling with 4 classes a day. This was ideal for math instruction.

If your son has been recommended for honors math track, I'd suggest he give it a shot. If he finds the course to be too rigorous, he can drop down to college prep math. Conversely if he were to take the college prep track, even with near perfect grades, it is difficult to move to the honors or AP track.

Good luck to your son. (and you)

wildcat fan1276656653.23360 PostsRegistered 1/18/2010

My son's also headed to high school in the fall. I used to teach AP and IB classes, and I understand that they are more rigorous than the general ed classes. One of the college magazines (can't remember which one) once stated that sending your child to college without an AP or IB background was like putting your child on a bicycle without training wheels. Sure, many students are successful in life without AP or IB prep, but they dramatically enhance their skills if they participate in one of these programs.

Another reason for enrolling my son in honors classes is that I know that there are typically well-behaved students enrolled in those courses. Around here the general ed classes are full of some unmotivated students who tend to monopolize the teachers' time.

ETA: I found the quote: "To send a student off to college without having had an AP, IB, or Cambridge course and test is like insisting that a child learn to ride a bike without ever taking off the training wheels. It is dumb, and in my view a form of educational malpractice. But most American high schools still do it. I don't think such schools should be rewarded because they have artificially high AP or IB passing rates achieved by making certain just their best students take the tests." It came from a Newsweek article, "America's Best High Schools: FAQ" from June 2010.

Last edited on 6/15/2010

Last edited on 6/15/2010

burtonfan1276656658.157738 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

My son's high school doesn't offer AP classes. That must be what happens when you come from a very small area.

sunshine451276656794.59740570 PostsRegistered 1/13/2007east coast and west coast

my daughter just graduated and is now headed to college..... she took all honors and/or AP classes during her time in a magnet high school (her curriculum was geared to law and public policy). the honors and ap classes are definitely weighted differently when you look at a 4.0 scale versus a 6.0 scale which many colleges take into consideration. those courses and that curriculum also got her foot in the door of a great internship, a chance to attend princeton model congress every year, and it seems the guidance counselors pay extra attention to these type of students AND the parents throughout all four years. i think there were many advantages to her taking these types of classes.

her scores on her ap tests have also allowed her to get college credits in advance for those she scored well on AND put her into better classes to start off her college career with....

she would do it again in a heartbeat! i would say they do have to have a lot of self-motivation in order to maintain the good grades!

Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind. - author unknown

JustJazzmom1276656979.58727567 PostsRegistered 11/12/2007My garden, of course!!

One important point, many schools in their Honors classes have weighted grades over the regular classes. The Honors classes will help prepare your child for the more difficult college classes when the time comes. It will also challenge him in ways the regular classes may not. They might go more into depth in certain aspects of the curriculum over just glancing over a topic in a regular class. There may be outside projects too in the Honors classes --such as National History Day essay or presentation to be written and presented to the students in that History class.

☼The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. GBShaw☼

september1276657005.1216879 PostsRegistered 6/29/2007

There will be a lot more homework in the AP classes. Our local high school stresses this, and has each student (and parents) signed up for any AP class sign an agreement saying that this is understood. So no one has a right to gripe about it after the fact. And then there are those extra exams the students have to take in the spring, in addition to STAR testing, finals, SATS, etc. As if they don't get tested enough!

But yes, it does help prepare them for college. Each of my kids said freshman year in college was easier than senior year in high school.

Kzeks1276666128.5974754 PostsRegistered 5/25/2006Michigan/Europe
On 6/15/2010 sunshine45 said:

my daughter just graduated and is now headed to college..... she took all honors and/or AP classes during her time in a magnet high school (her curriculum was geared to law and public policy). the honors and ap classes are definitely weighted differently when you look at a 4.0 scale versus a 6.0 scale which many colleges take into consideration. those courses and that curriculum also got her foot in the door of a great internship, a chance to attend princeton model congress every year, and it seems the guidance counselors pay extra attention to these type of students AND the parents throughout all four years. i think there were many advantages to her taking these types of classes.

her scores on her ap tests have also allowed her to get college credits in advance for those she scored well on AND put her into better classes to start off her college career with....

she would do it again in a heartbeat! i would say they do have to have a lot of self-motivation in order to maintain the good grades!

What wonderful parents for paying such great attention

to your child & her education....Taking AP & Honor classes

matter & it can be the difference between your child getting

accepted at a Top Tiered University or NO University....

Our children all took AP classes & when the load seemed too

much they gave up one of their extra activities....But I am

reading here that parents are proud that their children are

giving up AP classes to to pursue Drama & Sports????Crazy...

My daughter was President of the Drama Club but also took

AP/Honor classes..They also did Sports, Ballet & Music....

That combination helped them get into the best Universities..

Where they met their very bright husbands who have the

same great education & Now they are in fantastic jobs that

they love...

We have to teach our children to see further than the water

bottle they are sipping & the Gameboy in their hands....

Kzeks1276666573.4274754 PostsRegistered 5/25/2006Michigan/Europe
On 6/15/2010 burtonfan said:

My son's high school doesn't offer AP classes. That must be what happens when you come from a very small area.

You can take your child to the local College or to

a Summer University where he can get these classes...

There is a good chance he will get accepted at the

University where and if he takes the Summer Classes...

calichick1276666727.81270 PostsRegistered 11/20/2009

If the student can take honors courses, that would be great. I was able to skip the freshman English course in college because I took AP English classes in high school.

For IB, one has to excel in all subject areas {#emotions_dlg.thumbup1}

Kzeks1276727939.5274754 PostsRegistered 5/25/2006Michigan/Europe
On 6/15/2010 lulu2 said:

I am a retired high school math teacher. Throughout my career, I taught a plethora of courses encompassing most ability levels. My final ten years I taught honors trig and analysis as well as AP calculus. We were on block scheduling with 4 classes a day. This was ideal for math instruction.

If your son has been recommended for honors math track, I'd suggest he give it a shot. If he finds the course to be too rigorous, he can drop down to college prep math. Conversely if he were to take the college prep track, even with near perfect grades, it is difficult to move to the honors or AP track.

Good luck to your son. (and you)

Good advice....

DianaFran1276729240.7910849 PostsRegistered 11/15/2004

As a teacher, I would always encourage the classes with the most in depth study to kids who can handle them. However, even highly motivated students need some down time from the stress and work overload. I would suggest choosing the honors subjects that the student enjoys the most and opt for regular classes with the others, or at least throw in an elective that is pure joy, such as art, drama, choir, etc. These kids need to enjoy their lives before they have their noses to the grindstone in their careers. I wouldn't want their school experience to be all drudgery. It should be fun as well as work.

qvcfreak1276731038.4375725 PostsRegistered 3/14/2005

DS just finished his freshman year and he also had an AP schedule. He does, however, struggle with Math and his grades were awful in Math, couldn't get past a C. He changed 2nd semester to Pre-AP and did great, overall had a B average for his final grade when they combined first and 2nd semester.

Now, I graduated with Honors and didn't attend college. One of my best friends graduated with just the regular required classes. He went on to graduate from college always making the Deans list and law school with very high honors. I guess he always had it in him, just didn't apply himself in High School.

lulu21276732620.78320883 PostsRegistered 8/1/2007
On 6/16/2010 qvcfreak said:

DS just finished his freshman year and he also had an AP schedule. He does, however, struggle with Math and his grades were awful in Math, couldn't get past a C. He changed 2nd semester to Pre-AP and did great, overall had a B average for his final grade when they combined first and 2nd semester.

What is Pre-AP? We were a large math department and offered 4 AP courses. The only one freshmen could take was AP Statistics if they received 94+ in Honors Algebra II. AP Computer Science was an option if you received a 94+ in Computer Science I & II. AP Calculus AB, then BC was offered if you received 94+ in both Honors Trig and Honors Analysis. (to be in these courses you needed a 94+ in either Honors Geometry or GT Geometry.

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