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Teens and High School: Balancing Academic Rigor With Extracurricular Activities

With the onset of spring, parents and their teens will be making choices regarding academic class schedules for next year. The importance of balance should be part of that decision making process.

Maintaining a handle on this year’s academic classes while simultaneously trying to plan for next year’s can be quite the challenge. As spring approaches, you and your teen will soon be faced with finalizing classes for next semester.

If your teen is struggling with honors classes, is it wise to enroll next year in AP?

If your teen is breezing through honors classes, should you push for AP next year?

If your teen is having a difficult time with classes this year, is it OK to request a repeat for next year?

The choices you’ll soon be asked to make and the decisions you come to, will have a lasting impact. UC requirements, family changes, health challenges, or reality, are but a few things you may need to consider.  Whatever choices you make, do not make them in a vacuum. Talk with teachers, counselors, other family members, and especially your teen.

Along with short term benefits, take into account long term consequences. This is especially true for seniors who will be in college next semester. Making the wrong choice in class selection can add an extra year and thousands of dollars to that four-year-degree.

Whether for high school or first semester of college, consider selecting classes and extra curricular activities based on building not only a strong foundation of academics, but also on building a strong foundation beyond academics. There’s more to a teenager’s life than academics.  Art, music, sports, hands on activities, competitions, traveling, and you fill in the blank – all add balance to the life of a high school student. The important element is balance.

What do you think? Post a comment and add to the conversation. If you had it to do over again, how would you balance academic rigor with extra curricular activities? Would you change anything? What worked for you?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

NovatoAVID February 24, 2013 at 04:34 PM
At this point...the UC and California State system have added and extra year to that "four year" degree....many student have opted out of the UC system, and looking at private education. At Saint Mary's College,and other private schools....we know you will be out of school in 4 yrs ---and in the job market. SMC has received a record number of junior transfers the past 3 years--- the student realizing the purpose/ value of a college education is in the working life.
NovatoAVID February 24, 2013 at 04:36 PM
and in many cases we see, the CSU student will take 6 years...just because the system of education is not offering the classes..
Tina McMillan February 24, 2013 at 11:26 PM
I thought if you take the first two years at a JC and got the needed grades, you would be guaranteed entry into a UC with a graduation after two more years.
Novato Native February 25, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Tina, Its not a guaranteed acceptance, but the UC schools do have to accept 80% of their transfer students from California community colleges which is really helpful.
Tina McMillan February 25, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Novato Native It is so frustrating to see kids work their tails off and then not have a clear track to a degree because too much money is going to top tier staff in the UC system. Here is a link to an article by the teachers union. http://www.cft.org/universities/394-uc-budget-qa.html "Possible Salary Reductions" "Q: Is it true that we are going to have our salaries reduced? A: It is very possible that the UC may decide to cut all salaries 5% or use a furlough system to accomplish the same thing. However, in the case of lecturers and librarians, the university has to negotiate any salary reduction. Q: If the UC is broke, why would the union resist a 5% salary reduction? A: We do not think the university is broke, and we want them to prove to us that they need to make these cuts. Q: Why do you think they are not broke? A: The university brings in billions of dollars every year in profits from medical services, extension programs, parking, housing, research, patents, and fund raising. They are just trying to maintain a high level of disposable income, while they claim they are poor. (see http://universityprobe.org/2009/04/budget-lies-a-letter-to-the-president-of-uc/)" I don't know who is telling the truth and who is lying I just know that kids that are a hairs breath away from a degree can no longer get classes in impacted schools. I thought the JC path was a way to insure success but it looks like that is broken too.
Tina McMillan February 25, 2013 at 02:54 AM
Here is another article about UC coaches salaries. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/coaches-316441-nobel-laureates.html "The top UC coaches earn, on average, three times more than the system’s full-time Nobel laureates. The top eight coaches earned an average of $1.2 million in 2010, while UC’s eight full-time laureates earned an average of $403,000." http://www.dickmeister.com/id117.html "Hard times continue at the University of California - except, of course, for UC's very well cared for administrators. Their six-figure salaries continue to grow handsomely while the pay of those who teach and do most of the university's other work remains stagnant, and even as student tuition and fees increase and qualified students are being turned away." I am not sure when government jobs began earning at the same level as private industry jobs. The difference in pay use to be justified by the better retirement and benefit package. Now it seems they get a private industry salary and all the other perks that go with a tax payer subsidized job. At the very bottom of the pyramid are the students. If we can't cut back salaries to increase classes and give students what they need then our system is failing.
Dr. Lois Merriweather Moore February 25, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Information is power. Hopefully we will hear from other colleges and universities on their plans for graduating students in four years. Parents and students should check directly with the Admissions Department for colleges and universities in which they have an interest in attending.

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