High School Parenting Tip: Avoid the Mickey Mouse Classes if at all Possible
We are the parents of an eighth grader/soon to be high schooler. What does that mean this time of year? It means we will soon be faced with meeting the high school guidance counselor to schedule classes for next school year. Eek! Not only does this mean that we’ve officially hit the last stretch of the grade school race, but it also means we get to finally see the results of the 11 years (2 years of pre-K and 1 year of kindergarten included) of teaching and parenting through school. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Once our oldest completes her junior year of high school colleges will look at her transcript and pass judgment on the courses she took. If she took, what educators like to refer to as the Mickey Mouse courses, we/she would be in big academic trouble. Mickey Mouse classes are those that do not challenge students’ intellect and most definitely do not impress college admission officers. I must say that I have observed AP, college prep (CP) and honors classes. In the AP classes there was a classroom environment of expected learning and higher level thinking questions bouncing from teacher to student. The honors classes’ came in at a close second. A 2011 Indiana College Readiness report lends to the benefits of taking honors classes, finding that 91% of honors students enrolled in college. The CP courses I’ve observed didn’t even come close to impressing me. I haven’t been into every AP, honors and CP course across the nation, but I’ve seen and read enough to know that if I was a betting woman, I would put my money on AP and honors courses every time to get the higher level thinking job done. While CP courses are not necessarily an exact example of Mickey Mouse courses, they can come pretty close. We are pushing for our three to go to college. Studies consistently show that a college degree is more likely to offer a higher earning income over a lifetime.
(From collegeboard.org) Moreover, we know that taking challenging coursework in middle and high school will not only prepare our three for success in college but also is the best predictor of both college readiness and college success. Because quiet as it’s kept, solely meeting high school graduation requirements is not sufficient to effectively prepare one for success at a two or four year college.
Suggestions for Designing your Teens High School Transcript:
Know the ranking/weight of classes. Most high schools offer (from highest to lowest):
- College Prep (CP)
Ask for honors or up.
- In our school district the students have to prove with standardized test scores and teacher recommendation that they can handle honors classes. Be sure to check for yourself as not all guidance counselors will double check for recommendations.
What if the recommendation is CP and I think my teen can handle honors?
- Speak with the head of guidance about your options.
- In some cases you may be able to complete a waiver form – read the fine print on how one qualifies for a waiver.
- Ask about taking summer school classes. Your teen may be able to take a course during the summer. Check first to see if your teen’s high school will accept the course. In some cases if they do not, you may be able to get the principal to override the decision.
What if the recommendation is CP, and I know my teen can’t handle honors classes yet?
- Make sure your teen does well in CP their freshmen year. At the end of their freshmen year you can then see about registering them for honors classes. Honors classes from sophomore year on are better than none at all.