“I’m only taking Academic.”

The stigma surrounding non-Honors/AP classes persists at NASH

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“I’m only taking Academic.”

photo by Julia Poppa

photo by Julia Poppa

photo by Julia Poppa

Alyssa Bruce, Staff Writer

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Now that the school year is in full swing, the scheduling process may seem like a distant memory.  But how are students’ course selections last spring working out now that classes are in session?

In a building with a plethora of AP and Honors, many NASH students tend to view Academic as an overshadowed last resort. With college admissions on the minds on the student body, the fear of not being “enough” for colleges often leads to the decision to avoid Academic classes simply due to the title.

As any student can attest, if the school received a penny every time a student reports, “Oh, I’m only in Academic,” the floors could be made of pure gold.

“There is for sure a stigma,” junior Reka Gutz said. “I was afraid to take Academic math because I thought it meant I would no longer be competitive for the schools I want to apply to. People think they need to take all Honors and AP to get into a good school, when in reality, it doesn’t matter as much anymore.”

Students taking Academic classes are preparing themselves for a four-year college, and there shouldn’t be a stigma around that.”

— Mrs. Rosato

Another probable source of the stigma is the idea that taking an Academic class shows a lack of intelligence or ambition.

“I’m fearful that if I don’t take [an Honors or AP course], the school and its students will have a lower opinion of my work ethic,” junior Emma Kim said.

The misconception that “regular” classes make those who take them appear less intelligent than those in Honors or AP is of concern to the Counseling Department.

“Academic classes are college preparatory level classes, with some even being College in High School classes, earning credit from various local universities,” Mrs. Rosato said.  “Students taking those classes are preparing themselves for a four-year college, and there shouldn’t be a stigma around that.”

In reality, taking an Academic class may simply show that the class isn’t one of the student’s particular strengths or that they don’t have time for the extra work due to other commitments, like sports or extracurriculars, or even that the student feels that Academic is is a good instructional fit.

“I always tell my students to challenge themselves in their areas of interest, so maybe trying a harder class in just one or two areas would be appropriate,” Rosato added. “Colleges do not expect students to have maximum rigor in every academic area.”

In an age of steeply increasing competitiveness for college admissions, however, many students worry that Academic classes put them at a disadvantage.  And often the sentiment originates at home.

“My mom won’t let me take academic classes, because it is too far away from AP,” junior Meg Patterson said.

Yet Rosato and her colleagues in the Counseling Office emphasize that enrolling in one comes with a variety of benefits. If a student is not particularly interested in science, for instance, taking Academic Chemistry will allow more time for homework in areas that are more suited to one’s interests. Likewise, if a student dedicates a large amount of time to sports and is planning to be a collegiate athlete, an Academic class would create more time for training after school.

Also, according to Rosato, unless a student is set on a highly selective college or university, enrolling in one Academic class will not crush their chance of acceptance, granted higher marks are earned. Colleges today pay attention to applicants as a whole, meaning extracurriculars and volunteering are evaluated alongside transcripts.

But the battle to restore a proper view of the Academic level is far from being won.

“I think it takes education,” Rosato said. “Going into the future, it is essential for not only students but the school district as a whole to eliminate the stigma around Academic classes.”