By Rachel Boyd
Sarah Wilber’s eyes scanned the freshly printed report card feverishly as she assessed her success. Satisfaction swept over her as she took note of her hard earned grades, but her stomach hit the floor with disappointment when she noticed her slightly lower grade in her Nutrition and Wellness class.
“I chose to take the class because my friends were taking it, and I just wanted to bake during school and eat. I thought it would be easy, like an easy A, and maybe it would help my GPA,” Wilber said. “I didn’t realize how hard it would be.”
Wilber is far from alone. Many students slip a few seemingly easy classes into their schedule to improve their overall GPA and give them a break from the rigor of their other courses.
“Blow off” electives such as theater, art, computer and family consumer sciences classes fill up quickly because students expect to have fun in the class and automatically receive an A, but those enrolled are often unpleasantly surprised by the amount of work and dedication involved in the class.
Ann Beelke, teacher of various art classes, said students often choose her classes and end up being upset about their grades and the level of difficulty associated with the work.
“That’s the bad thing about certain electives. People just assume that it will be easy and it won’t take a lot of time to do, but it does if you want good results,” she said.
As a typical high school freshman, Wilber was required to take classes such as biology, English, pre-algebra and geography, but she was free to choose whichever electives interested her. Unfortunately, she got more than she bargained for when she chose to take Nutrition and Wellness: Orientation to Foods and Nutrition.
“All the memorization is really hard. You have to learn all the vitamins and different types of foods and that kind of stuff, and it’s just really difficult,” Wilber explained.
Brenda Lester, a Family Consumer Science teacher, said that this type of situation happens frequently with students in the classes she teaches. “Students perceive Foods (Nutrition and Wellness: Orientation to Foods and Nutrition) as an easy class because we have daily exposure to the content. The class applies many of the other content areas, so in reality you are taking a class that is actually science, English, math, human relations as well as others. Some students find it fun to see it all pulled together into a neat package, others might struggle,” Lester said via e-mail.
Although this is her first year of high school, Wilber said this situation has helped her to learn a valuable lesson. “I won’t take classes just because I think they’ll be easy or to be with my friends,” she said. “I would rather take classes I’m actually interested in that will help me on in life.”