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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adjusting to high school


gogators

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mom2,

AP classes have increased a great deal here, it is one part of the No Cihld Left Behind Act. However, I am on faculty at a university in the states, in the sciences and many of my students enter with many AP classes. But in the 6 years I have been working here, it does not seem to significantly reduce the amount of time they take to a degree. Of course some do finish sooner but AP classes in high school do not insure it. BUt your are right that there can be a lot of discussion about it. My students are amost all in their senior year and some are still talking about their AP classes.

 

In my mind it is an option of many. And a solid student can use other options to get into college.

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I adhere to the viewpoint that used to be held long ago when AP classes began, and that is: if a high school student is esp. strong or passionate in a particular academic subject, then taking an AP class in that subject area in their latter high school years is an appropriate choice for that student.

 

But nowadays, because of college applications I'm afraid that many students are pressured to take a whole slew of AP classes in many subject areas, regardless of their interest or strength in the subject area.

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My dd is a high school sophomore this year & participates in the early release program at her dance studio. She dances 18 to 30 hours a week (depending on rehearsal time.) The adjustment to high school was difficult last year because she had to give up so much school stuff for ballet. Her high school is small and most of the kids participate in three sports, plus a number of school clubs. DD could have been a starting pitcher on the varsity softball team, but she couldn't make any practices or games--so no high school softball. DD did join the journalism staff of the school paper last year, and this has made a big difference in her school life. Journalism is an elective class, plus all of the kids eat lunch together in the journalism class room. This has provided an opportunity to bond with a bunch of kids from all grades & allows to contribute to the school....Other girls at her studio have also found this to be true, newspaper and yearbook staff work seems to fit the ballet schedule, even if nothing else does.

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In my experience, dancers in high school should think twice about taking AP classes.

 

For my son, a math-science wiz, they were great. Up through 8th grade, he was able to coast through school since our district doesn't offer a "differentiated curriculum" for brighter students. He finally felt challenged when he opted for the higher track classes in high school that led to AP in 11th and 12th grade. But he regularly had at least five hours of homework a night and his GPA wasn't outstanding. This resulted in one college wait-listing him and no scholarships. Fortunately, he's attending an in-state school, is tops in his chemical engineering class and would do it all again, as he loathes being bored in school.

 

When my DD asked to sign up for the top track classes, I told her she was certainly smart enough to handle them, but I said, "say goodbye to your dance classes" due to all the homework. So she took the regular track classes (which included three years of math, science, foreign language and social studies) and wound up with an outstanding GPA. Hence, she was offered academic scholarships (in addition to dance scholarships) at four colleges. The colleges were just happy that my daughter had pursued a "college prep" curriculum that went beyond the minimum high school requirements.

 

Personally, I think the admission system at most colleges is unfair when they rely on crunching numbers. (And the Supreme Court said the system that wait-listed my son was unconstitutional.) But, unfortunately, most colleges value quantity over quality when it comes to that precious GPA.

 

P.S. I agree with Redstorm's follow-up post, in case my position wasn't clear.

Edited by Pierrette
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I'm sorry but I will not sacrafice my dd's dreams and life for AP classes. She is an exceptional student (usually straight A's) with above average scores in her Standardized tests, she could easily take AP classes but we discussed it and decided it wasn't for her.

AP classes require hours upon hours of extra work including work throughout the summer. DD recently saw one of her dancing friends give up serious dancing because of her AP course load. This poor kid goes to school all day and then comes home to 6 hours of additional homework. How can this be healthy???

What happened to after school activities, Friday night football games, dances and just spending time with friends?? Even with dd's busy dance schedule she still has time for some of the activities I mentioned.

It is like there is some kind of race that these kids are in and they are all in such a hurry to get to the finish line. What's the hurry?? And what is at the finish line?

What are the benefits of taking 5 AP classes? Unless you get top grades in the classes it doesn't mean a whole lot. And let's not forget those SAT scores. If those aren't near the top, no amount of AP classes are going to matter.

Is it scholorships? Is that the goal? Finishing college a year early? What's the rush? I don't get it.

Maybe I am missing something here. Could someone explain to me the reason a teenager gives up their entire life to study and do school work 14 hours a day?

:huepfen::blush::bouncing:

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However I have to wonder what the advantage is in addition to the logical "some universities expect it."

 

Interesting fact: My kids went to a private high school, some of whose teachers write and grade the national AP exams. Despite that, when my son, a top-notch math/science whiz kid type, asked his advisor whether he should take a particular AP course, he was told that he COULD, but that he'd get a better education if he took the school's own honors course instead. He took their advice and never regretted it. It was a much more thought-provoking course.

 

But that was in 1997 and much has changed in terms of how admissions officers view AP's. Kids who don't take them are seen, by some university admissions officers, as being lazy or not interested in their education. :huepfen: It's ridiculous, really. The only case where I can see that AP's hold value is in a high school where the regular classes really aren't stimulating enough. But at many public and private high schools, there are dedicated teachers who've created wonderful courses that rival, in terms of real education and real critical thinking skills, what the AP's have to offer. Remember, most AP's are boiler plate ____101 freshman college courses. College kids plod through those to get to the interesting stuff.

 

I'd rather the high school kids, instead of taking AP courses in the upper high school grades, take all those interesting electives that are offered!

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We recently received an article on the results of a nationwide survey of colleges on what ranks most important to least on college applications. The top ranking criteria was grades in core classes, followed next by SAT and ACT tests, with written recommendations a very close third.

 

The summary advice of the article was for the student to take the most challenging schedule that s/he can do well in. In other words, don't sacrifice the grades for the harder courses if you're grades are going to go down much.

 

I thought it was interesting how much emphasis in the article was placed on nurturing relationships with teachers in order to have strong recommendations.

 

Activities and clubs were only mentioned as a tipping factor.

 

I am interested in everyone's advice on this subject, as DD and I feel the need to get prepared this year to meet with the counseler in the spring. Her school likes to map out the kids 4 year high school plan in the spring of 8th grade and she's worried about being able to balance it all through high school. She's also interested in taking enough challenge in the first years to keep the option of early release open in the later years.

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Keep giving the advice re: APs. DD is taking AP french and AP u.s. history this year as a junior, and plans to take AP English and world history next year. She's debating whether to take APs in science and math as well. My advice to her has been to only take AP classes in the subjects you LOVE and want to learn more about. She worries that her scholarship chances will lessen if she doesn't load up on APs. In her public high school, the AP classes are taught by the best and most interesting teachers and there is a lot of pressure on the kids to take a lot of AP classes. She hopes for good college acceptances and scholarships, and then the chance to delay college a few years while dancing professionally. (Nothing like hoping for the moon!).

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This reply and random comments are from a mom of a 14 yo DD who is no longer putting all her eggs into the ballet basket. DD is home from residency, as they converted to internet based learning, and she is putting academics first. This was ultimately her choice. Ballet may not be able to prepare her for a career locally, which is why she went away to begin with...but she did not feel she would be stimulated enough with ballet as the majoar focus in, with school taking a back seat. So take these comments accordingly..This is her soph year

 

DD decided to take a very intense year academically, but math was never a love. So she is on block scheduling with 4 classes this semester, and is taking Algebra II, AP World History, English II Honors and Chemistry Honors. She elected not to take Alegra II as Honors. But in two days of class, she came home and felt she was in a class of "losers." If you are not taking Honors or AP, the class may consist of more than 50% of students who are taking the class because they have to. Not because they want to. At least at this level. Rather than being in a class of sophomores who were really interested in learning and paying attention, etc etc, and who were maybe a year ahead of the norm, she was in with mostly Juniors who where finally taking their last "required" math class "for the rest of their life." While she really did not want to take the Honors class, and have to work that much harder only get a B, she was not going to sit through a year of Algebra II and get an A and "put up" with the attitude of the class. So she switched to an Honors class. And it is tough.

 

At her school, the teachers really teach a moving and motivated class when they are teaching Honors and AP, and you have a class full of kids who want to be there and want to learn. You may not get that in an on-level class. So it is more than just the GPA in the end. She is not taking AP classes with the idea that she will shorten up her college experience. She is taking Honors and AP because the classes will be filled with motivated kids like herself, kids similar to the motivated kids who take ballet!!!

 

In our part of the country, older students do report that AP classes do factor into acceptance and scholarships. So I suspect some of the "need" or "don't need" AP is regional. If DD ends up getting AP credit at college, she looks at that is freeing up time to take the things she'll want to take, or more classes in her major, and getting some of the basic requirements out of the way.

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knock knock

 

A word from "the other side". I'm not on the admissions committee, but I do alumni interviewing for one of the more prestigious and "nerdy" universities (Hi Treefrog ;-) ).

 

The alumni interviewer's job is to provide information about the school and also to gather information that will supplement the written application. I always ask my interviewees what classes they are taking and have taken, and what they've been doing outside school.

 

In my interview reports, I have only once been critical of a candidate who did not take full advantage of AP (etc) courses, and that was because the candidate, despite having many opportunities, did not take any of them. I thought this spoke poorly for the candidate's motivation.

 

In the cases of dks being discussed here, I would think that the interview and/or essay(s) would be a place where the student can say "I had to be selective about how many heavy-duty courses I took because I was dancing 20 hours per week." It shouldn't work against them and on balance will probably work in their favor as long as their grades and test scores are solid.

 

A few other notes:

--It is true that sometimes the "regular" classes end up being taught by less-skilled teachers and filled with unmotivated students. One has to weigh the options carefully in these cases. I had a few of these classes in high school, and while they were difficult to take in some ways, in other ways they were _extremely_ educational.

 

--IMHO, it should be non-negotiable that the student will obtain a very solid high school education so that, if college is delayed, the student can read with full comprehension, write clearly and correctly, and understand basic math and statistics. This may be a walk in the park for some and a bit more of struggle for others (you know, just like mastering a double pirouette).

 

--The homework loads I hear about nowadays seem appalling and ridiculous. I don't think I ever did more than 1-2 hours of homework per night, and that was with a very full schedule (granted, of what was available in the Dark Ages...)

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I do alumni interviewing for one of the more prestigious and "nerdy" universities (Hi Treefrog ;-) ).

 

"The University of Chicago: Where Fun Comes to Die" (local t-shirt)

 

or another:

 

"The University of Chicago: Hell Does Freeze Over"

 

 

(There, koshka. I just reduced your interview load 50%!)

 

Seriously, I'm glad to have your perspective about coursework. I suspected that a student could explain their load in an essay or interview, and I'm glad to have your confirmation.

 

I do think it's unfortunate that kids feel they HAVE to take APs or honor courses just to get colleges to look at them. Wouldn't it be nice if kids could take the courses they wanted to? My older DD (senior this year) took the regular physics course last year, although she was eligible and well-qualified to take the AP course. Both teachers and courses are very good -- but I'm betting that in the AP course she wouldn't have done that project on the physics of turning in ballet!

 

Redstorm: Finding a balance in life is hard for everyone. I don't know the circumstances of your DD's friend -- for example, I wonder whether it was she who chose academics over dance, or it was her parents. However, such choices inevitably arise when time- and energy-intensive pursuits begin to stack up. It's fine for you and your DD to choose ballet over APs. I don't think anyone here will criticize you for that. Others, however, might make the opposite choice. I don't think there is one right choice -- so much depends on relative ability in the competing demands, on prospects for the future, and on the individual's passion. And remember, we're not talking about slacking off in either pursuit! Just not doing both to the max.

 

nlkflint, I had to chuckle at your daughter's dilemma. At my DD's high school, Algebra II is the default math course in the FIRST year! The talented/motivated/nerdy/driven kids take ACCELERATED Algbra II/Trig -- actually, this is probably more than half the class. Talk about insanity ...

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Thanks Treefrog. Actually, it used to be that way here, but now if you enter high school with Algebra I under you belt you have to take Geometry as a freshman and cannot take Algebra II/Trig until sophomore. Crazy thing, but with a new state standardized mandatory 10th grade math test, some schools found their students were doing poorly in Geometry knowledge, even by brainy Algebra/trig types. So now they are "teaching to the test."

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Getting WAY :wub: here, I know, but in the couple hours since my last post, I chanced across an article about teaching mathematics. As you may know, US kids test way down the list in international comparisons. Among other things, I learned that in the countries that do better than us, both Algebra I and Geometry are learned by the end of 8th grade.

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:wub: Straying further down that path . . .

 

By having completed algebra I and geometry by 8th grade (taught by a teacher at her middle school who had previously taught high school in the same city and used the very same book as the high school), DD took algebra II as a freshman; as a sophmore, she is in a pre-calc class. Math is neither her interest nor her passion. In truth, it is her "weak" area.

 

But, in order to get an "Honors Diploma", she will need to log 4 years of math----and neither her algebra I nor geometry will count because she did not take either at the high school. So, she gets to count them for purposes of having had the prerequisites for the next math class, but can't actually get credit in any form for them.

 

So, her "reward" for being in the advanced level math is to get to take MORE advanced math than she really would prefer. By the time she graduates high school, she will have had two years of calculus. And those particular classes are offered only as AP classes at the high school where she currently is. :wink: So, lucky her! (I, on the other hand, managed to make it through 20 years of school without a single calculus class).

 

But, on the other hand, she gets bored and frustrated with less strenuous classes. We, too, are wrassling with balancing the more interesting class content of the AP classes with (what appears at times) the indiscriminate additional reading/work just for work sake.

 

As far as the REAL topic of this thread, DD is a sophmore in high school. As a freshman, she took all honors/AP courses. With the exception of the World History AP class, she had little homework to bring home. She did schedule a study hall so that she would have less trouble making her 4:30 to 9:00 dance schedule. She never missed a dance class for homework, test studying, or projects. However, she only attempted to join one school club (but eventually gave it up as being unfocused). She had class projects in World History AP and her classmates graciously worked with her and her dance schedule. She attended only two football games, no basketball games, and only one dance. In short, she did not find her dance schedule conducive at all to fostering high school involvement.

 

As with pretty much everything else in life, it simply came down to a matter of choice. She always choose dance. Some of her other dance friends chose high school activities and cut back on dance significantly. At least with her dance schedule, she could not do both and still maintain a pre-pro track schedule.

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Knock Knock moderators feel free to delete. This is just a teen commenting.

I am in my first year of high school, and I completed Algebra I Honors in grade 7 and Geometry Honors in grade 8, now I am taking accelerated Algebra II and trig. At my school by freshman year they have 6 or 7 math tracks already and the grade level course of Algebra I is considered by some taking it and by others to be "stupid math" as we are encouraged to take many AP classes as from our town it is difficult to be accepted into the Ivies, 7 sisters, little 3, Stanford, and those selective colleges as so many are applying. I am wondering if anyone else's freshmen face this.

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