Picking a Major...in High School?
"Debra Humphreys, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Colleges and Universities, called high-school majors “a colossally bad idea,” saying youngsters should instead concentrate on developing a broad range of critical thinking and communication skills.
“Today’s economy requires people to be constantly learning and changing,” Ms. Humphreys said. “A lot of jobs that high school students are likely to have 10 years from now don’t yet exist, so preparing too narrowly will not serve them well.”
Despite such naysayers, a number of school districts around the country are experimenting with high school majors, an outgrowth of the popular “career academies” that have become commonplace nationally, and in New York City, over the past decade. But while many career academies simply add a few courses to a broad core curriculum, majors require individual students to make a more serious commitment to a particular educational path."
Florida has passed a law requiring 9th graders to pick from 400(!) career choices and South Carolina has done the same with 16 career choices.Oddly, some seem to perceive that this course of action will help kids get into college. From the article:
"“This is like the middle-class version of what affluent families have been doing for years,” said Mitchell Stevens, an associate professor of education and sociology at New York University, who sees the move as a way for public schools to provide a broader menu of educational choices. “They tailor academic instruction around the needs and desires of their children in order to encourage them to do well in school.”
There's one example in the article which spells real trouble to me. It's one school has a magnet school within a school, both offering majors. Problem is, here's the majors for the larger school:
-sports management, fine and performing arts, health sciences, international studies and global commerce, communications and new media and or liberal arts
and for the magnet school (i.e. for the high achieving kids)
-engineering, law and public safety, biomedicine, finance, and information systems
See a difference? And guess (c'mon, take a wild guess) which is the most popular at the larger school? Yes, it's sports management.
And if, at 13, you made a bad choice of major?
"Two years ago, Akelia applied to the magnet program’s law and public safety academy because she wanted to be a lawyer. But after finding many of the legal cases boring and hard to relate to, she was unable to take classes in other fields because she was locked into her specialization.
“Now I wish I had probably gone to another academy because I like computers,” said Akelia, who is 16 and starting her junior year. “When you’re 13, you don’t realize how much work you have to put in to be a lawyer. It’s not like you just go to court, and win or lose, you make a lot of money.” "I did call UW Admissions and the woman I spoke to said unequivocally, no that it doesn't matter to them if a student had a major in high school. She hadn't even heard of it. I'm thinking it probably doesn't matter much to other institutions. I think admissions officers care about focus in terms of getting good grades and having focused interests (a couple instead of belonging to every club at school).
Whatever good you could get out the programs is negated by the bad. I hope we don't see this soon in our district or state.