With the last-minute introduction of a new class at the end of last year, many students of the class of 2020 were surprised: some thankful for the addition but others frustrated with the unexpected graduation requirement.
The establishment of Senior Focus was not straightforward and was shrouded in confusion. Many seniors with obligations to AP science classes, RAHP and Peer Counseling ran into scheduling conflicts with little time remaining to reach a solution before summer break. To add on to the confusion, some students found that they could not take the classes they wanted because of this extra graduation requirement. Additionally, seniors lost a valuable free to the class. More so during senior year than ever, frees are valuable to students as time to spend with friends or fulfill other responsibilities. The school addressed this matter by making five of the eight classes optional, resolving the dissatisfaction.
Many students begin their applications during the summer, especially those with October or November application deadlines. With class topics such as “interview tips…and demonstrating interest” occurring the week of October 14th, some students will have their applications turned in before an early-stage process is even discussed. While the information provided is invaluable, many students were concerned that the information was just being provided too late to be useful. However, there were also those who had not started the application process. Even though these people may be a select minority of the senior class, these students found a use for the senior focus class as it allowed for them to have a block of time to work on their application.
While there was much controversy over its introduction, Senior Focus was not unilaterally rejected. Many students are putting their applications together during the fall. For those with January 1st deadlines, there’s still time to visit colleges to demonstrate interest, build application lists, begin essays and review supplements. There are many students who see Senior Focus as a valuable way to spend their free that allows them to work on college applications with guidance in a structured way, adhering to a timeline that would be difficult for them to follow otherwise.
Some form of aid for students applying to college is necessary. It is important for all students who want help to be able to find it and for that help to be both respectful of guidance counselors’ and students’ time. It is also important that students who will have their applications done, want to take a conflicting class, or want to keep their free don’t have to deal with an unhelpful course. Some form of Senior Focus is necessary, however the system that is currently in place is overkill. One solution would be to take most of the coursework from this year and move it to the fourth quarter of junior year. This would prepare students that are starting applications or have interviews over the summer and would minimize scheduling issues. While teacher recommendations and transcript requests cannot be handled until senior year, the lesson on these topics was taught by projecting a screen recording in the class. Sharing this video with students during the senior class assembly could have the same value without the extra class. Many aspects of senior focus are necessary, and with a different implementation, the controversy can be avoided while still providing RHS students with the aid they need.
Graphic: Yea Jin Lee