Rigid Course Load Pays Off
by Jeffery Cao on Friday, November 6th, 2015
Milton Academy divides its courses into ten major groups: Classics, English, History and Social Sciences, Mathematics, Modern Languages, Music, Performing Arts, Physical Education, Science, and Art. By the end of our four years, we are supposed to have taken the bare minimum of two history courses, two years of science, four years of English, a level three course of language, and at least Algebra II. As for the arts, the bare minimum is one full-year course after Class IV or the Music Package, which includes two to three years of music courses.
For incoming freshmen, Class IV Physics and English are required classes. Freshmen are given little freedom to choose their classes, other than language and math courses. Primarily, their freedom comes from choosing a history course, either Ancient Civilizations or Modern World.
Physical education is fairly simple and provides the most freedom of choice: underclassmen are required to take three seasons of sports, whereas upperclassmen are required to only take two. Beyond that, every year there are particular required physical education courses: Project Adventure, Fitness Concepts, CPR, and First Aid.
So after you’ve read that mess of jumbled words, you might be thinking: Wow, that’s a lot of guidelines for courses! Well, you just might be right! Milton is a private school that prides itself on its academic rigor; thus, decisions regarding courses and extracurricular activities are very regulated.
However, many schools have similarly strict guidelines. Many students wish Milton’s guidelines were not so intense, but others see them as helpful for their college applications. So, should we or should we not change Milton’s course load?
Here’s where my research comes in: after looking at some local schools in Massachusetts, I’ve noticed that all high schools have course guidelines. The majority of other schools have similar, if not more, requirements than Milton. According to CollegeConfidential.com, typical American high school students take eight courses per year. Milton students, on the other hand, can take a maximum of five and half credits. Thus, according to my math, Milton students take equal or less courses than the typical American high school student.
Of course, because the average Milton course is potentially more difficult than another school’s, it is still easy to feel overwhelmed by Milton’s course load. According to Zachary Mustin (III), some regular courses at Milton are as difficult as AP courses in other high schools. Alex Chen (III) agrees: he states that, on a difficulty scale of five, honors courses at Milton earn a three, while honors courses elsewhere are a one. In other words, he believes Milton honors classes to be three times more difficult than typical honors courses.
Our courses, however, teach us well. According to data of college matriculation and SAT scores, Milton’s courses prepare its students very well for standardized testing and college. Business Insider says that Milton has a composite SAT score range of 2080 – 2130; this range is within the top thirty high schools in the United States. Andrew Dumaresque (I) agrees that although the courses are hard, they’re definitely worth it.
In the end, I believe that Milton’s course load should not be changed. The difficulty of Milton’s courses may make students think otherwise; however, from a long term point of view, the course load’s benefits are worth the hard work put in. College matriculation and SAT scores are hard evidence of our courses’ successes. Afterall, we do love the feeling of getting a great SAT score, right?
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