Juniors taking more advanced classes

Alice Chen and Corina Pigg

Walk into a Pre-Calculus class, the standard senior math class, and you’ll have to search hard to find the seniors. Why? This year in particular, LHS has observed that more juniors are taking senior-level classes than normal. Classes such as Pre-Calculus and AP Chemistry are dominated by juniors; because of the noticeable disparity between class sizes, Principal Dr. Schiele and math teachers alike have been weighing in on what exactly causes juniors to strive to achieve higher academic levels.

Compared to past years, the class of 2016 hasn’t seemed to diverge from the normal pattern of being driven to work harder during their junior year. Juniors particularly take advanced math classes, an observation which has been seen throughout the years. “It’s happened over time that kids are pushing themselves and challenging themselves,” said Dr. Schiele.

Indeed, juniors in past years have been known to push themselves, but why has it been more and more prominent as the years go by? “I think that [students] are under a lot of pressure to compete with the global society,” said Dr. Schiele. Not only are students competing against themselves or the kids next door, they are currently under more pressure than ever to do better because of the increasing selectiveness of colleges and the competitive nature that comes with the selection process. Juniors are taking AP classes more this year because it is widely known that colleges pay more attention to the rigor of their junior year schedule than any other year.

Besides this reason, Dr. Schiele has also noticed that the difference between junior and senior class sizes is pretty high. “There are roughly 301 juniors and only 250 seniors,” said Dr. Schiele. Dr. Schiele has noted that this difference could potentially play a role in the reason for more juniors taking advanced classes and seemingly overshadowing the seniors. Not only do students feel the need to take more advanced classes based on pressure put on themselves, but also pressure from their peers. Some students may feel that they have to compete with their friends, thus urging them to enroll in similarly hard classes.

Moreover, while juniors are preparing their transcript for college with rigorous classes, seniors usually treat this year as a time to take a break from all the junior year work. However, Dr. Schiele feels that this decision may backfire in the future when they actually attend college.

“I don’t recommend that for kids,” said Dr. Schiele. “[High school] is a time for learning and focusing on skills and interests.”

Even though juniors have been known in previous years to take advanced classes, the numbers have been growing due to increased stress, pressure and competitiveness from their peers and even people around the world.