KHS’ curriculum helps in the long run, depending on how it’s used

By on November 20, 2010

Photo: Kaneland High School seniors Mark Merfeld and Alyson Rehr, and junior Kyle Prost, attend Bradley’s visit on Oct. 8. Photo by Diana Nuno

by Diana Nuno, Kaneland Krier Editor
“When will I ever use this?”

The cliched complaint leaves the lips of countless students every day, frustrating teachers as they scramble for a short answer that won’t waste the entire block.

In a subject such as English, it’s not a mystery as to why the agenda or curriculum is the way it is—the real-life application of reading and writing skills is clear. But with some classes, such as chemistry or AP calculus, that’s not the case.

So how do science, math and history courses prepare students for college and the real world?

“Taking AP biology is the equivalent to taking biology your freshman year of college, giving students a feel for what college is really like,” science teacher Doug Ecker said

Some students go to college, some put it off and some even decide not to go at all. Students who take both Algebra I and Geometry have an 80 percent chance of ending up in college, according to the College Board. At least three years of math is recommended, including Algebra II, to be fully prepared for college.

Math is about far more than just equations and parallelograms—it trains and disciplines the mind. It helps develop the ability to identify and analyze patterns, develop logic and critical thinking, see relationships and solve real-world problems.

“Students don’t realize that algebraic expressions will be used later in life,” said Kenneth Dentino, math department head.

Granted, it’s doubtful that anyone is going to randomly ask for the Pythagorean theorem, but the problem-solving skills are essential when entering college or the work force.

History courses help inform students as a person and citizen; they offer context that aid in understanding the world around them and improve reading comprehension by increasing background knowledge. Knowing what’s going on also rounds out an individual and enables educated decisions in the voting booth.

Listening and understanding concepts now can set an individual apart from the rest of the candidates in situations such as applying for jobs, scholarships and college interviews. It can make students more prepared and ready for college life.

Check yourself

Erika Schlichter, curriculum coordinator, said benchmarks are much more helpful to students because then they know for sure whether they are ready or not. Find out if you’ll be ready for college with the checklist below.

Freshman Year
• Take EXPLORE test—Taken during eighth grade and freshmen year, this is the first assessment that monitors college readiness. Check whether your scores indicate you’re likely to succeed, and if not, study hard in those areas.
• Visit—Shown during Applications of Technology with one of the counselors, this site measures interests and possible career choices.
• Schedule sophomore year around interests—With many elective options, it’s vital that you gear future classes towards your interests and possible careers. Take challenging classes.

Sophomore Year
• Take PLAN test—The PLAN asks questions from hobbies to what industry interests you most. When the scores arrive, check to see whether you’re meeting college benchmarks. Arrangements should be made to deal with low scores.
• Keep GPA at or above 3.0—It is important to keep your GPA at 3.0 or above. Shoot for above, because keeping your head just above water doesn’t prepare you for college.
• Schedule junior year around future career—Junior year is when AP classes and electives focused on your interests are available. Try to take at least one AP class before graduation.

Junior Year
• Take PSAT/ACT/SAT—This year is the beginning of the end. The PSAT, ACT and SAT are important for the future. Study hard and take test-prep courses.
• Meet with your counselor—Your counselor can help you start planning and tell you about the colleges visiting KHS. Make sure you’ve met all the requirements for your dream college; many require more than Kaneland High School does.
• Visit possible colleges—College visits are the next step before applying to colleges. Explore the campus and get a feel for the atmosphere. Certain colleges let you even spend the night.

Senior Year
• Apply to colleges—The first step to the rest of your life. Make sure that the college you choose is a good fit for you and your career plans. If starting at a community college, have a major picked out for when you transfer.
• Keep a stable GPA—Keeping a stable GPA is the most crucial step for the high school graduate. Don’t let grades fall just because it seems like the end—college is hard and you need to be ready.
• Graduate—Finally, the time is here. After completing all the requirements and tests, it’s time to say goodbye. Spend the summer reading to keep your skills up.

Sources: Counselor Andrew Franklin
and Curriculum Coordinator Erika Schlichter
Compiled by Diana Nuno