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The High School Science Your Child Needs for College Success (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 3, 2013

How To Decide Between Regular or Advanced Science?

What if your student’s teacher recommends that he stay in regular science? Should you overrule the recommendation and push to be on the honors track? Maria Caryotakis teaches both Advanced Standing and regular Chemistry at Menlo-Atherton High School, and offers some insight on how to decide.  “There’s a big difference between AS and regular Chemistry,” she explains. “While the topics and timing are similar across both, AS classes dive more deeply into the subject material.” Students are expected to set up and solve their own mathematical equations, conduct “challenge” labs in which they apply previous experience to solving a new issue, and write up formal lab reports.

Caryotakis’ biggest concern about placement making sure that a student doesn’t lose her enthusiasm for science. “Students who are placed incorrectly in Advanced Standing classes miss out on the joy of science. I’ve taught kids who took AS against their counselor’s recommendation, and they struggle. They’re always worried about the math, the next test, finishing their lab report. But students who are placed correctly in regular chemistry are often the happiest students of all. They can relax and really enjoy the subject.”

Students should take AS classes if they have a strong math background and are comfortable with word problems. As for their grade in a previous science class, Caryotakis says, “I’d be surprised if it wasn’t an A.” Most of all, these students should be organized and enjoy independent problem solving. If your student struggles in any of these areas, it’s a much better idea to let him enjoy a regular science than to trudge through an honors class.

A Well-Rounded Schedule

Students should remember that the whole of their schedule is greater than the sum of its parts. Oberlin’s Houston emphasizes that academics are not the sole criteria for admissions. “Oberlin wants to build a well-rounded class, and we don't expect all students to have the same strengths.” So if science isn’t your child’s favorite subject, don’t get discouraged. Make up for it by showing strength in other areas and exploring real-world interests. If she works hard, cultivates her passions, and stays true to herself, a good-fit college will present itself and welcome her with open arms.

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