The Three A’s of Finding the Best High School
As May approaches and high school seniors across the nation begin to finish up their high school careers and move on to the colleges of their choice, an entire new batch of students and their parents make decisions about what high schools they will attend. While some parents never look past the local public school option, other parents look for the top school choices by searching for educational opportunities that offer the Three A’s.
By selecting a high school that focuses on these three qualities, parents will make sure that their student has what he or she needs when it comes time to applying for colleges or moving on to the workforce.
Academics. Obviously, it is important to choose a school that has the highest academic standards. A full menu of advanced placement classes, dual enrollment classes, foreign languages, advanced math and science, and other rigorous offerings will make sure that a high school student will be successful during the college years.
A thorough examination of the course curriculum offerings can be the initial step for a family evaluating the academic standards of the school, whether it be a public or private institution. In addition to the course catalog, the best high schools will also offer parents open houses and student information nights that allow families to understand the curriculum and how to use it to achieve the goals that students have set for themselves.
Academically, it is easy to find a list of the state college requirements that are needed in your area. Stronger students, however, will look for a high school that will provide a schedule to allow many academic opportunities far beyond the minimum of state college requirements. For instance, high schools that offer dual enrollment courses must be staffed with faculty members who have masters degrees in the areas that they are teaching. Understandably, the schools that are staffed with more qualified and academically recognized teachers will offer high school students the best opportunities.
Activities. In addition to academics, parents and students considering high school should also look at the activities that are offered. The high school experience is more rich and full if it extends beyond the typical classrooms. Whether it be afternoon practices and Friday night football or basketball games, or National Honors Society service projects, activities are an important part of the day for any high school student.
In fact, most studies indicate that students who are involved in at least one or two other extracurricular activities actually do better in their classes. Teachers and counselors attribute this greater success to the fact that high school students who participate in clubs and sports learn to do a better job of managing their schedules and their times. It is almost as if being busier helps students avoid procrastination and other negative habits that keep them from being successful. For example, a high school basketball team may have practices four to five times a week as well as one to two games a week. Coaches in the best high schools make sure that student athletes are doing well in their classes and staying caught up on assignments before allowing them to play.
Attitude. A strong academic background combined with an enriching activities schedule, however, may not be enough to insure that a high school graduate will flourish in college or at a job. A student’s attitude, in fact, will play a key factor in the success of any high school student, college student, and adult. That attitude will be important beyond the lessons in calculus and physics, beyond the tests for history and literature. For many parents, a focus on attitude, or what today’s educators like to call “grit,” is what convinces them to look beyond public school options. In many family situations, and in many locations around the country, finding a private school that teaches dedication, perseverance, and attitude is essential.
What Are You Looking for in a High School for Your Teenager?
When some parents look for a high school for their children, they simply want an experience that is similar to what they had. Other parents are looking to provide the best possible advantages for their teens before they move onto the world of college classes and future careers.