Douglas County School District graduates and current students don’t share common opinions on the high school block schedule.
While a current ThunderRidge High School student gives the schedule an A, a recent graduate saw and experienced problems with it.
“I love it,” ThunderRidge High School senior Kianna Nguyen said. “At my school, they allow seniors to take whatever classes they need to take.
“I’m taking four AP (Advanced Placement) classes. I also do concurrent enrollment at ACC (Arapahoe Community College). It’s really nice for me because I have time to do all those classes and do my homework.”
Nicole Scheuerman, who graduated from ThunderRidge in 2013, also liked the time allowed by off-periods to do homework. But the negatives outweigh the positives in her mind.
As a senior, Scheuerman said a scarcity of electives left her with three off-periods. She spent that time working as a teacher’s assistant, but said other students used their free time differently.
“There were many kids who’d just go home and not stay at school, or go off for lunch and skip the rest of the day if they only had one class,” she said. “High schoolers don’t make the right decisions all the time. There’s a lot of freedom I don’t think should be given to juniors, seniors. You shouldn’t have half a day off from school; you should be in school learning, trying to better yourself and succeed, and kids don’t grasp that concept.”
Nguyen said friends who graduated from ThunderRidge last year reported no problems getting into the colleges of their choice. But a Douglas County High School graduate said the three off-periods common to many seniors can give college admissions officers a negative impression.
Rigor is “one of the main factors colleges consider when you’re applying,” said Bill Kakenmaster, a freshman at American University. “They don’t want to see you slack off. The feeling some students got was that we were getting shortchanged.”
McMinimee said block schedules are common nationwide and not a barrier for prospective college students.
“My experience has been it’s never the type of schedule you’re on,” he said. “It’s the GPA (grade point average), the test scores, the rigor of classes you take.”
Several websites on college admission criteria concur that rigor is an important consideration.
“The grades you achieve in classes throughout high school … are obviously important, but the courses that you elect to take and the rigor of the courses you select are probably even more important to the admissions committee,” according to collegebasic.com. “High school is a time to prepare for the rigor of college, and the admissions committee must be certain that you can easily handle the academic rigor at their college and find success at the post-secondary level.”