Jag Wire: First question, for students who are hesitant about private lessons, what advice would you give them?
Councilor Chris Wallace: I think the first thing is to focus on graduation credits. What do you need to graduate and try to major in those areas and really choose good options to get the fine arts, technology, and communications credits in some of those categories. The second thing would be to talk with the teachers and use some of the resources that are on the website as well as the conversations that those teachers who teach some of the classes that you might have questions about, to try to make up your mind an idea of whether there are good options, then come talk with us, 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 are sort of a good database of information that can try to help students identify options that would be suitable based on their interests.
JW: From your perspective, is it better to take a harder course like honors or AP and do a poor job, or take a simpler course and get better grades?
CT: It is, by definition, a million dollar question, because what is it? The cost and benefits of both are difficult to predict and predict. For example, the University of Kansas and Kansas State have both discontinued counting test scores for scholarship purposes. Knowing this is the case, more emphasis needs to be placed on GPA as it is one of the criteria they use for scholarship review. So if the risk is grade related i.e. taking the harder course you are more likely to get a worse grade then there might be an advantage in trying to hedge a bit your GPA and consider lighter options. If it’s time-bound, for example, I might have to spend more time working on the scores, but if you’re still confident in your ability to get the A, I’ll always go for the harder course. The preparation that comes from taking these challenging offers to prepare for college or future opportunities is far more beneficial than not.
JW: What types of students would you recommend for CETC? And what types of students typically apply?
CT: What I to know [is that] CTEC does a great job in its peak opportunities. So that means you’re not really here to just try something. Yes, you try new classes and do new things that you probably don’t have much experience with; but the kinds of experiences you get are very reminiscent of things you’ll do on a professional level. You get full hands-on experience which can then be directly linked to professions that use this technology and do this stuff at work. So I think the best-suited students at CETC are those who are very career-oriented, think about their professional life, are really driven and willing to love looking into career experiences like internships and job shadowing and things like that, and just want to take advantage of the opportunities now, rather than wait until much later to explore those areas.
JW: So you would say that CETC is much more focused on particular areas, whereas the courses at Mill Valley may not be as focused.
CT: Yes, in general, CTEC offers these three components which have very specific professional applications for them. They’re not really broad category courses that sort of translate into many different areas. Take the example of engineering. Engineering is part of the emerging technologies stream at CETC. There are engineers in tons of different industries, tons and tons and tons, from software to aviation to technology or computers. The list goes on and on, but if you take an engineering course, you are preparing for types of engineering jobs.
JW:If a course is not necessary for a student’s future career path, should they bother taking that course?
CT: One of the selection criteria to see is that you are there and match career paths and interests based on your individual study plan. So it’s actually an application criterion for CTEC, that it appeals to you and that it suits you according to your skills and tastes. So, in general, I would say it’s important that students who choose this option are not only passionate about this subject, but also have realistic opportunities to pursue this on a professional level later.
JW: When should someone consider doubling up their courses, for example, taking AP Chemistry and AP Physics at the same time?
Wallace: I think whenever an area of interest or something you are passionate about, the opportunity to take more classes is always a good thing to do. So an orchestra student who is in a wind band or a symphony orchestra and wants to do jazz, this is a great opportunity; but if a student knows that something related to science is in their future and they are passionate about it, well why not take several science courses especially if you have the time you can dedicate to these two materials. However, if you’re just adding rigor for the sake of[working] in front or [expediting] the process or something like that, there is no rush. You are four years old. I would advise that it’s best to spread the rigor as evenly as possible and make sure you’re taking quality courses from year one through to year one, rather than just trying to load up on a year.
JW: So to the point of AP classes, what is the purpose of an AP course? And what is the difference between an AP course and a regular course?
CT: A lot of this can be found in our class comparison charts that we have on the advice website. The basic idea is that AP courses are taught at the college level, and this gives students the opportunity to learn some of these skills that should translate directly into things they would need at the college level.
JW:What do you think colleges are looking for when students apply based on the classes and courses they have chosen?
CT: The number one aspect we hear over and over again is [colleges] want well-rounded students. We definitely want to see students take rigorous courses and challenge themselves and really flesh out their resumes as much as they can. Also, we really want to encourage students to get involved, either in community service or volunteer work with part-time jobs and get involved in things that way. Also, build work experience with internships, sports and activities, clubs, organizations, to build a resume or portfolio that shows you are a complete individual. Jobs have become much more intertwined these days, and the skills you need to perform in one area of work often have many similarities to other areas. [Applying to colleges is] it’s really about creating a full portfolio of things that you can expose yourself to so that when you make that transition into college and the workforce, you have a full set of skills to build on for yourself help in these transitions.
JW:Based on schedules, what is happening in student counselor schedules?
CT: We have our deadline [for when student class election is due]. When the deadline arrives, we enter all course information, anything students request is uploaded. We also manage the numbers: how many students request certain courses? Based on this distribution, we build our main schedule, which is literally how many math teachers do we have? How many sections of each maths course and how many hours will they be taught so that we can try to meet all demands at the maximum level? If there’s a class and only one student in the student body is requested, that’s almost not going to be an option for the coming year, but if we can get enough numbers in class, then we’ll do our best possible to try to achieve this. the schedule somewhere so that these students can take this course. Once we have built this main program, Skyward runs the system and assigns all these course requests into these respective blocks. After, we go in and clean up any mistakes or errors. We need to complete or repair the things that are full, then move on to those alternate choices and fill in the missing pieces that way.
JW: Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?
CT: Two or three things: The most important thing for students to do is to meet the deadline. However, they don’t need to be at the start of this process. There is no benefit or benefit to turning your course guide the minute after we give you this information. If anything, that’s not the advice we’d offer. We encourage you to take the time to have conversations with your parents, with your teachers, and really make sure that you are making the right choices. So that we reduce the number of changes, errors and things that we have to clean up later. Because we actually find that the students who rush in and submit it are the ones who have to come back later. This is a case where being patient and processing things a bit more is to your benefit, as opposed to your detriment. We don’t do first come first serve; it’s entirely the luck of the draw depending on what Skyward awards. Plus, like I said, the only way to make sure you get your picks is to get your[course guide] on time. The sooner you know your future options for colleges, degrees, or careers you want to pursue, the easier it will be to align your high school schedule to plan and prepare for those opportunities. We don’t want to put pressure on students to make life-changing decisions if they are not ready to do so. It’s okay to still not know what you want to be when you grow up, but if you can start formulating those plans, it can often work to your advantage when it comes to things like course selection because that now you have a course guide to help gain experience before going to college. Again, everyone is at a different phase of life right now and there is no pressure, rush or urgency to figure it all out. However, remember that you are starting the brainstorming, the sooner you can facilitate the whole process.
JW: And, as always, students can always come and see the counselors if they have any questions?
CT: Yes, we are always happy to try to help.
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