High school students tend to generally get the same curriculum, with some students partaking in similar courses of higher demand, but in all, pretty much the same structure and skeleton of courses year by year. Each student gets their general education, but is it really useful? Now, we can think about “useful knowledge”, knowledge that prepares the students for the outside world of college and beyond. For me, I think that I received much useful knowledge from my time before college. I attended a vocational school with a wide range of career focused academies, which I had partaken in the engineering academy here. We had our normal classes that each student would have but mixed in courses made specifically to teach us about the fields and give us knowledge to pursue career options in the future, as well as to prepare for college with an understanding of what we are going in for. Whereas, at some non-vocational schools, this isn’t the case. These courses aren’t available to students and their readiness for the world after high school is much less decorated than those who have such experience. I went into high school thinking about what I wanted to do and ultimately being driven away from it, as I am now pursuing computer science over engineering. I made this decision while I was in high school, where some students are going into college thinking they want to do something and two years later realizing it isn’t for them, wasting their time and money when they could have been exposed to this years before.
Not all students will know what they want to do in the future when coming into high school, or even college for that matter. Whereas others feel as if they know exactly what they want to do. Based on the school, these two completely different students may get the exact same curriculum regardless of what they are pursuing because of the lack of availability of courses. Or maybe, even the first student may have considered following some of these courses and getting an early head start on their college path. Both of these students, devoted to a career or not, may still be at the same level of understanding when entering college when either may have the potential to exceed what has been given to them. This is the importance of variety. Yes, everyone should get their general knowledge in school, but general just is not enough. For example, let’s say a student who wants to pursue computer science may be stuck into a curriculum where they have to take a course that does not correlate with their intended path at all, is easily replaced at a different school with a full computer science focused course. This student may be completely left behind, where they could have gotten this education and been right on track with everyone else in their same field.
As said by the author of Career Education Now, Sidney P Marland Jr, “It is terribly important to teach a youngster the skills he needs to live, whether we call them academic or vocational, whether he tends to make his living with a wrench or a slide rule or a folio of Shakespeare. But it is critically important to equip that youngster to live his life as a fulfilled human being”. She is 100% correct in this judgement. Say, for example, a student is looking into internships or job options after high school and each one describes a specific set of requirements that they would not even think possible at their age because of what they have been given. All the while, another student was given the exact subjects and materials that they need from their schooling system for this position. In any case student A with the right resources could be much more capable of a task than student B, but because student A wasn’t exposed to any of these such things, they are ages behind. Falling behind can lead to needing more classes which can result in more work and more unnecessary stress for students who would otherwise be excelling in their fields.
A portion of students do tend to drop out and this can be for a multitude of reasons. Another reason for this tendency to drop out, and you wouldn’t think of it at first, the knowledge these kids are receiving is just plain boring. The students aren’t engaged in the courses and feel as if dropping out will be better for them. In the writing College Knowledge the authors, Sarah Hooker and Betsy Brand state, “High school dropouts report that their primary reason for leaving school were that the classes were uninteresting or irrelevant to the world beyond high school or that they felt alienated and unsupported”. These students are looking for something that they can look forward to that can help them achieve a bright future and the result of it not being given to them is truly sad. “Approximately 7200 students drop out of U.S. schools each day, adding up to 1.3 million students annually”. It is a ridiculous number to think about. 1 of those 1.3 million students a year could do something spectacular in this world and create a bright future for us all if they had stuck to the schooling path, but instead we lose just one more bright pupil to the absolutely dull curriculum of modern day schooling.
Keeping students engaged is one of, if not, the most important thing for schooling. Teaching every student, no matter where they wanna go or what they wanna be, the same knowledge produces a bad look on the schooling system and really makes you think, what are we even teaching the kids these days? Students should be given the resources they need and be taught things that will progress their education to a point where they feel confident and ready to enter college, and soon after the working world. Schooling that gives a student the right tools to further their education tends to show much greater results than schooling which does not. Sometimes it feels like these schools aren’t trying and results will show their “general knowledge” is simply outclassed by the “useful knowledge” achieved by those eager and ready to enter adult life.