Humanities without honor

Caroline Jacoby

Honors and AP classes are a big part of students’ schedules and should be taken to challenge them. But students who would prefer to take higher level classes in subjects which do not offer them in ninth grade often have a disadvantage, while students who prefer the classes that do offer honors in ninth grade have an easier path to success because they have more chances to challenge themselves and take hard courses. This is largely due to the absence of honors for humanities subjects such as English and history until students are at the upper school.

The issues surrounding humanities classes not being offered at a higher level is not new, but it was easier to resolve before the recent changes to the AP system. This limits the number of AP classes that students can take and set up specific limits for each year. The problem is with the limit per grade level: Students who would prefer to take an honors class that is not offered at a younger age cannot make up the classes when they are at the upper school. Since there is not an option to take that many AP or honors classes, these students do not have the same opportunities.

Students who are stronger in humanities classes do not have the option to challenge themselves and take classes that they enjoy, and there is no reason that STEM students should be offered a greater challenge. This could affect college applications if students are not able to show schools how they have challenged themselves. Not only does this lack of honors in humanities classes make the college application process unbalanced, it prevents certain students from growing as learners and challenging themselves to do well in a higher level class.

Though students could take honors classes in subjects they do not like as much, it is harder for them to succeed in those classes. Also, the school stresses the importance of choosing classes that students want to take rather than feeling an obligation to take a class to look good for college, but students who prefer humanities simply cannot take an honors class they would like to take.

The best solution to this problem is to add honors for humanities classes in ninth grade. The main argument against adding more classes is that stronger students are needed to keep class discussions going in these subjects, but on the contrary, this is the teachers’ job, not the students, and it would actually encourage students who are not as strong in these subjects to participate more. Not only would this improve the level of challenge for students who prefer humanities, it would help students who do not like these subjects because

Adding honors humanities classes for ninth graders would avoid the question of why STEM students should have a greater challenge than humanities students. All students deserve the same opportunities regardless of their subject preferences or abilities, so there is no reason why this should put students at a disadvantage. Adding these classes would increase the functionality of the new AP system and is not a change that the school is unable to make.

Ninth graders should have the option to take honors classes for humanities instead of just STEM classes so that all students have the same opportunities to challenge themselves and succeed.