Dear Teachers, Consider Your Students!!!

Dear Teachers, Consider Your Students!!!

If I knew what I was doing, I'd be getting a B.
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I recently got a grade back from a test in my science course. I received a D on the test. I expected that much. I was never good at taking tests, to the point that some of my teachers were shocked when I passed. I never took offence to it, because even with D’s in the class, I did well on reviews, homeworks, quizzes, and many others so it kept my grades up to a B, or if need be, a C. The only class I ever truly struggled with those was math, but with that as the only exception, I was a pretty good student. My GPA was not phenomenal, but it was average- a 3.25 in high school. I was not a straight A student, but I wasn’t a total disappointment.

I was fine skidding by because I knew if I had to get a C it was with my best work, and if I truly knew my work, it was A or B worthy without studying. (that being said, I did start to study in college.)

By skidding by, I meant that I was not happy with a D in math, or a C either, but I was content in knowing I passed. I was content with this because I knew if I could do better, I would be doing better. I came to accept that some things I would not understand in a few days- like math or scientific theories. I was okay with that, though, because, again, I had other work to boost me up. What harm did a few missing points on tests do? I was passing, and I didn’t need them for my major anyway. The important thing was, I knew enough.

That all changed when I got my final grade.

I had a B in the class. My score was a solid 88, and I was content because with a few more assignments I could easily be brought up, and when I heard I had a test, I was not worried because I was studying and I knew if I did poorly, it would only cost me three, maybe four, five points - six max.

But now I have a C. A 76 in the class due to a test.

No, it isn’t impossible to get back to my solid 88, but in order to, I need a 96 on all future assignments. Talk about that added stress, huh?

Allow me to put my testing into perspective a little further. In Government in high school, I was in the top 5 on the leaderboard of kahoot for review without studying. I was doing well and understood the subject. Come test day, I got either a C or a D on the test (I’m leaning towards D but I will give myself the benefit of the doubt.)

Testing is not my forte, and I don’t think many teenagers necessarily go into tests stress free. According to the American Test Anxieties Association, between 16-20% of students have testing anxiety, Another 18% are troubled by moderately-high test anxiety.” in the United States, and I am one of them. I had assumed I had cured my anxiety only until I noticed that tests were 50% of my final grade.

I’m sorry, but that isn’t fair.

Teachers and professors, take this into consideration. You have many students who do fine in your class, who do all their work, turn them in on time. I’m not asking for brownie points, but simply understand that sometimes making a grade rely on the outcome of their test is not fair.

“But life isn’t fair!” Life doesn’t have grades. Life isn’t keeping you from passing a college course. Life isn’t costing you money per failure. Life does not make you push out thousands of dollars if your grade falls below a 69.5.

What I am trying to say in all of this mess is that some students can do all they can to make good grades, do phenomenal on reviews, homeworks, quizzes- and still fail courses. This is a huge issue, and a huge concern from me, a college student. I remember tests being 30% of my grade last semester, and I passed majority of my courses (except for math) with a 20 point buffer. As a student who does well in school, puts her best foot forward, never misses an assignment, and works hard to double check her answers, this is disappointing and nerve wrecking. Some students have grants, scholarships riding on these grades.

Do I expect tests to be outlawed? No.

Do I ask for tests to be lowered to 10 or 15%? Well what student want that? But no.

What I am asking for is teachers and professors be mindful of their grading criteria. A test weighing 30% of their grade is not as scary, because it only lowers you a few points. What is scary is a test that is 50% of your final grade, bumping you down a whole letter and making it nearly impossible to get back where you were.

Teachers, please remember this.

Not all students are built the same, but all students rely on those grades for one reason or another. Consider the weight you put on your kids.

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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It's Time For You High Schoolers To Invest Your Time Into Your Careers

It may seem too early to specialize, but there will be a point where it's too late.

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If you're in high school, odds are you're approached by friends, family and more family about your plans after. For many of us, this can mean college. From convincing a college to admit you to convincing them to foot your entire tuition bill, you need to be marketable.

You should start with writing out your resume. Write it specifically oriented towards your career path. My resume, for example, is music themed. If you are anything like younger me, you might have a couple things that fit. I had marching band, concert band, honor band. But the majority might be things you signed up for to round yourself out.

A candidate too well rounded is directionless.

My participation in science club was fun, I will admit. But it didn't do much for me. It didn't teach me leadership, nor cooperation nor did it help with my career path.

High school is a lot more limited a time to both express and market yourself than you might think. Before I knew it, I was sitting in my junior year without much to my musical name.

If you have an extra curricular that you participate in because you enjoy it, you don't have to drop it. If you have developed as a person or as a leader, then it might even be something you can include in your list.

I just want to caution people from getting into the same situation I was in. I spent the first three years essentially of high school to feel out different areas, and this was too much time.

Productive uses of your after school time should be things you talk about when you say what sets you apart from other students in your field. And yes, this means you have to utilize tools outside of your school offerings most of the time.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing my participation in Atlanta CV (professional drum corps in DCA), high school marching band and marching band leadership, MAYWE (Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, an auditioned honor band), GYSO (Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra), AYWS (Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony), Youth Bands of Atlanta, county honor band, jazz band, twice state applicant for Governor's Honors Program Music, JanFest music at UGA, the Academy of Science, Research and Medicine (Biotechnology certification and science fair), math bowl and HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing the most relevant activities as well as the ones I've chosen to regardless stick with. Relevant activities in regard to my music major include honor ensembles and marching activities.

My most applicable activities for music include marching bands. I am a contracted baritone marcher of Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps as well as trombone marcher and two year Trombone/Baritone Section Leader for the Pride of Paulding marching band. These show relevancy because these organizations provide rapport as well as the marching activity in itself shows another level of musical capability.

My honor ensembles are relevant likewise because they show higher musical skill and provide some legitimacy to your path. I have been involved in Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, county honor band, jazz band and I was also a Two-Time State Applicant to the Governor's Honors Program.

I plan to also be with the Symphony of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, Youth Bands of Atlanta and JanFest at UGA. Auditions are coming up for each of these and I hope to be considered for membership. These would round out my music application by showing versatility (via orchestra along with wind ensembles) and more time dedication. Both universities and employers value this level of hard work.

Of course, even I on my soapbox have some activities I've stuck with despite it not being directly related to music. Despite this, you can make them relevant by touting your experience with it. I've been an officer and competitor for our chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals despite not going into healthcare and I've been certified in Biotechnology through my school The Academy of Science, Research and Medicine despite not going into STEM.

My experiences in biotechnology and healthcare have provided me a round academic experience, more high rigor classes and leadership opportunities. I was co-treasurer of our HOSA chapter and my Magnet school gave me access to more AP classes and the biotechnology classes. Anything can be useful, but the extent is determined by its relevancy.

The vast majority of my activities are both outside of the school and directly related to my career path. Activities such as these can make any student automatically more competitive than an equally academically-standing student.

Finding these activities involve a combination of involving teachers and mentors in your career field as well as self research. Luckily for me, I was able to fairly quickly compile a list of Honor Bands to audition for due to the abundance in the area. My directors also named a few. Most areas should have something at least tangentially-related to your specialization.

Some opportunities require knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. For example, my involvement in one of my most valuable activity assets, Atlanta CV, was a result of knowing a guy that knew a guy that knew about an opening for the right instrument halfway through spring training.

What I hope readers gain from my story is to start early. I've found myself struggling to meet the market's standards in the last year of high school immediately before applying for college. Specializing would have been more effective a tad bit longer term and I hope others take my heed.

Moving on from high school can be an intimidating process. It's hard to find the right college, and even harder to convince them they want you. Harder still is convincing them to pay for your education. But all this can be made easier by specializing and becoming marketable.

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