The belated – and unnecessary – experience

By Sharon McClintock

Senior experience: taking quizzes about yourself that rival those of Facebook, dressing up for an imaginary job five years from now, and pretending to have kids for the sake of sometimes messed up scenarios. Isn’t your experience as a senior supposed to be enjoyable?
Most of the curriculum in senior experience comes to the 17- and 18-year-old students too late. They teach the students about sexually transmitted illnesses (also taught in freshmen health), budgeting, job interviews, financial aid for college and some general laws. It would be more relevant to present most of this course material when the students are sophomores or juniors. It was less useful because half of the course was about getting a job and what to do with your money while many of the students got jobs back when they were 16 years old.
Filling out a job application for a future job was less helpful than filling an application out for a job we could currently get would be. It helps to know what our options are and how to get the job, but applying to Jack in the Box would have been more helpful than applying to some architectural company or hospital.
Students took tests to find out what kind of careers they would be good at and many of those careers require college degrees. If the assessments showed that the student would do well in a career that required one of these degrees but the student had only taken and passed the classes necessary to graduate high school and not the extras that colleges want, the student wouldn’t be able to go into that field. However, if the students took the assessments when they were freshmen, they still had a chance to prepare to go to college.
The unit about financial aid came late as well. There are many scholarships available for sophomores and juniors and many of the scholarships that seniors apply to are due before the second semester of school. Furthermore, learning about college loans before senior year would help students figure out exactly how they are going to afford college before they need to fill out scholarship applications.
Starting to learn how to keep a budget just before students go to live on their own is not a good idea. They will surely fail and end up back at their parents’ house because they thought they could afford more than they really could. But if they start budgeting when they turn 16, they have a few years of practice before they meet the real world.
So much of the work in this course basically taught nothing. Students looked at web sites and compared them or they took unfruitful quizzes. They learned what kind of shopper they were but if they spend too much, they did not learn how to stop. The class was so full of lessons students will not remember when the situation actually occurs.
So, if most of the curriculum would have been more helpful to sophomores and juniors, when should the school teach it? Much of the course work, such as the information about STI’s, relationships, families, and even co-worker relationships and job applications would easily fit in a freshman health class. Assessments about future careers, online shopping, laws about phishing and peer-to-peer file sharing could be in a FIST class.
Schools take on too much of the educating that parents should do. It should ultimately be parents who are a good example of healthy relationships, lawful and aware citizens, good workers and responsible spenders. Schools seem to be failing at it anyway so why not hold the parents a little more accountable. In a perfect world, parents would teach their kids all the tools taught in senior experience and the schools would pay less to reinforce these lessons.