Jagwire: The first question, for students who are on the fence about certain classes, what advice would you give them?
Counsellor Chris Wallace: I think the first thing is to focus on graduation credits. What do you need in order to earn your degree, try to specialize in those areas and choose really good options to meet fine arts, technology and communications credits in some of these categories. The second thing is to talk with the teachers and use some of the resources on the website as well as the conversations that these teachers teach some of the classes you might have questions about, to try to get an idea of if there are some good options, and then come talk to us with the advisors. We are not experts, but we certainly know a lot about courses. We don’t know everything about the courses, but we certainly work with every course offered here at Mill Valley to one degree or another. So we’re kind of a good database of information that can try to help students decide which options would be a good fit based on their interests.
JW: In your opinion, is it better to take a more rigorous class like honors or AP and do a poor job, or to take a simpler class and get higher grades?
CW: This is by definition, the million dollar question because what is it? It is difficult to predict and predict the cost and benefit of both. Therefore, both the University of Kansas and Kansas State have moved away from calculating test scores for scholarship purposes. Knowing that this is the case, additional emphasis should be placed on the GPA, as this is one of the criteria they use to consider scholarships. So if the stakes are related to grades, which means you’re more likely to get a worse grade on the challenging course, there might be some benefits to trying to protect your GPA a bit and look at some of the lighter options. If it’s time related, for example, I may have to spend more time working on the results, but if you’re still confident in your ability to get the first class, I’ll always be tempted to take the more challenging course. The preparation that comes from receiving those challenging offers in preparing for college or for future opportunities is more beneficial than not.
JW: What types of students would you recommend for CTEC? And what types of students do they usually apply?
CW: what I I know [is that] CTEC is doing a great job of pioneering its industry-leading opportunities. So what that means is that you’re not really there to experience something. Yes, you are trying new courses and doing new things that you probably don’t have much experience with; But the kinds of experiences you get are very reminiscent of the things you would do on a professional level. You get full work experience that can directly relate to the professions out there that use that technology and do these kinds of things on the job. So I think the students most suitable for CTEC are students who are very professionally oriented, who think about their lives as professionals, who are really motivated and eager to consider professional experiences like internships and job shadows and things like that, and just want to take advantage of the opportunities now, instead of waiting Until later on the road to explore those areas.
JW: So, you could say CTEC is more focused in certain areas, while classes in Mill Valley may not be as focused.
CW: Yes, CTEC generally offers those three branches which have very specific functional applications for them. It’s not really broad category courses that translate into a lot of different fields. Let’s take engineering for example. Engineering is part of the emerging technology thread at CTEC. There are engineers in many different industries, tons and tons and tons of software to aviation to technology or computers. The list goes on and on but if you are taking an engineering course, you are preparing for the types of engineering work.
JW:If a class is not essential to a student’s future career path, should they bother to take that class?
CW: One of the selection criteria to see is that you exist and match career paths and interests based on your individual study plan. This is actually one of the application criteria for CTEC, that it interests you and that it is suitable for you based on your skills and likes. So, in general, I would say that it is important that students who choose this as an option, are not only passionate about the subject but also have realistic opportunities to pursue it at a professional level later on.
JW: When should someone consider doubling up on classes, for example, taking AP Chemistry and AP Physics at the same time?
Wallace: I think anytime there is an area of interest or something you are passionate about, the opportunity to take more lessons in it is always a good thing to do. So a band student who is in Concert Band or Symphonic Band and wants to do jazz, this is a great opportunity; But if a student knows that something about science is in their future, and has a passion for it, why not take multiple science classes, especially if you have the time that you can devote to both of these topics. However, if you only add rigor for[working] forward or [expediting] Operation or something like that no need to rush. You have four years. I would advise that it is better to spread the rigor as evenly as possible and make sure you are in high quality courses from year one through year one, rather than just trying to load up for one year.
JW: Then to the point of AP classes, what is the purpose of an AP course? What is the difference between an AP course and a regular course?
CW: Much of that can be found in our category comparison charts at Counseling website. The basic idea is that AP courses are taught at the college level, and it gives students this opportunity to build some of those skills that should translate directly into the things they need at the college level.
JW:What do you think colleges look for when students apply based on the classes and courses they have chosen?
CW: The first aspect we hear over and over again is [colleges] They want students with good experience. We definitely want to see students take rigorous courses, challenge themselves and really build their academic CV as much as possible. In addition to that, we also really want to encourage students to get involved, either in community service or volunteering at part-time jobs and getting involved in things that way. Also, gain professional experience in workouts, sports and activities, clubs, and organizations, to build a resume or portfolio that shows you are a well-rounded individual. Jobs nowadays are becoming more intertwined and the skills you need to do one field of work often have a lot of similarities with others. [Applying to colleges is] It’s really about building a comprehensive set of things that you can expose yourself to so that you have a comprehensive set of skills that you can refer to to help you with those transitions, as you make this transition into college and the workforce.
JW:Based on the tables, what goes into building advisors for students?
CW: We have our deadline [for when student class election is due]. When the deadline comes, we enter all the course information, and everything students request is uploaded. We also run the numbers: How many students order certain courses? Based on this division, we build our main table, which is, literally, how many math teachers do we have? How many maths sections each class and what hours will be taught so that we can try to meet all the demands to as much level as possible? If there is a course and only one student is on the student body, it won’t be an option almost entirely for next year, but if we can get enough numbers in the class, we’ll do everything we can to try and get that schedule somewhere so those students can take That course. Once this master schedule is created, Skyward runs the system and assigns all these course requests to those respective blocks. Next, we go in and remove any bugs or errors. We have to finish the filled stuff out or fix it, then go to those alternate options and fill in those missing parts that way.
JW: Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?
CW: Two things: The most important thing for students to do is stick to the deadline. However, they don’t have to be early in the process. There is no advantage or benefit in converting your course guide the minute after you are given this information. If anything, it’s not the advice we’re going to give. We encourage you to take the time to have conversations with your parents and teachers and to really make sure you are making the right choices. So we can reduce the amount of changes, errors, and things we have to clean up later. Because we’ve actually found that it’s the students who rush to submit it who need to come back again later. This is one of those instances where being patient and tackling things a little more is to your advantage, rather than hurting you. We don’t make it first come first serve; It’s total luck in the draw based on what Skyward assigns. Plus, like I said, the only way to ensure you get your picks is to get[course guide] At the exact time. The more you know about your future options for colleges, degrees, or jobs you’d like to attend, the easier it will be to align your high school schedule to plan and prepare for these opportunities. We don’t want to pressure students into making life-changing decisions if they are not ready. It’s okay not to know what you want to do when you get older, but if you can start crafting these plans it can often be in your favor when it comes to things like choosing a course, because, now, you have a guide of courses to help build experience before going to college. Again, everyone is at a different stage in life at this time and there is no pressure, rush, or urgency to figure it all out. However, remember that you start brainstorming, the sooner you can facilitate the whole process.
JW: And as usual, students can always come to the advisors if they have any questions?
CW: Yes, we are always happy to try and help.
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