After years of permitting seniors and some juniors to get out early each day, Lake Highlands High School and the rest of Richardson ISD will implement a new policy this fall – students must enroll in seven courses per day.
The goals are noble enough: to keep students in the habit of studying, to prepare them for rigorous academic challenges in college and to introduce them to a wider array of coursework. Not every student needs seven credits to graduate, though. Students may begin accumulating credits from their first 7th grade pre-AP math course and continue adding zero-hour dual credit and other coursework until hours needed senior year can be few.
So what to take senior year?
LHHS offers some wonderful courses to prepare students for college, they host practical internships via partnerships with local businesses and they are currently adding to their career and technology offerings. They offer interesting electives, too, including the cooking and nutrition class my own son took and enjoyed a few years ago.
I’d like to see RISD offer a course in Real Life 101.
While lunching with friends a few weeks ago, one mom received a call from her daughter who asked where she might go about getting a postage stamp. As we laughed about the simple things our brilliant, accomplished kids were clueless about, we lamented the lack of a Real Life 101 course at LHHS.
Here are the top ten lessons I think Wildcats should learn before they graduate.
- How to obey the rules of the road.
Student drivers learn about speed limits and DWI penalties when they receive their licenses, but a few rules seem to clobber them in college. “No parking, tow away zone” means keep circling the block – or find a few hundred dollars to ransom your car back from the impound yard.
- How to budget your money.
Your debit card may still be working, but that doesn’t mean you still have money in your account. If you add a $25 overdraft fee to your $5 Starbucks, that Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino was painfully expensive.
- How to read a city map.
GPS turn-by-turn is great, but technology is fickle and getting lost at 2 in the morning is downright dangerous. Buy a map and get an idea of where you are going before you set off.
- How to make five basic dishes.
If you can’t take a full course on nutrition and cooking, at least master five basic dishes. Find foods you like and can share, with simple ingredients requiring just a few tools. You’ll be the hit of the party.
- How to ask for help.
People will help you if you ask them. In person. Nicely. Email has its place, but there’s nothing like walking up to the counter or sitting down with the person who knows the answers. And don’t forget to say thank you.
- How to take care of your body.
Some students have been high level athletes and others never participated, but after high school the body begins to change. Drink water. Get some sleep. Use sunscreen. Take a walk. Eat a vegetable. Wash your hands.
- How to use time wisely.
Arrive early. Is the lecture, class, test, interview, event important? (Are there many which aren’t?) Some of the best discussions/people watching/revelations occur in the 7 minutes before the event begins. Arrive early.
- How to do laundry.
Yes, separate the whites. No, laundry and dish detergent are not interchangeable. Yes, socks and underwear really should be washed between every wearing, no matter what the “sniff test” indicates. No, you should never wash blood in hot water. Yes, hairspray gets out ink stains.
- How to be present.
Put away the dang phone. Look people in the eyes. Be a participant in your own life.
- How to be safe.
Nothing good happens after midnight. OK, 2 a.m., whatever. Just be careful out there.