Class Dismissed?

Class dismissed?

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GIF ©2015 by Walt Disney [CC-by-2.0]
Walter Kirn, author of the New York Times article, “Class Dismissed,” is an advocate of the removal of senior year from the United States education system. Kirn believes that senior year is a waste of time in which students could be getting a head start on life outside of K-12 schooling. However, I disagree with Kirn’s perspective of senior year because the elimination of senior year will cause many problems in the lives of students. Because of the conflicts that arise as a result of dismissal of senior year, I vehemently differ from Kirn’s argument that the twelfth grade should be completely eradicated.

To begin with, the elimination of senior year will undoubtedly cause educational problems. For instance, colleges mainly look at a student’s grades from grade 10-11, sophomore year and junior year, in order to determine the work ethic and desire to learn in students. Nevertheless, with the removal of the twelfth grade, everything that the colleges look at will be pushed up one year. Therefore, the university of interest would now determine whether or not the student will be accepted at the school based on freshman and sophomore year academics. This would not only change the standards of the colleges, as many students are still transitioning from pre-high school education during freshman year, meaning that colleges would have to base acceptance on only one year, sophomore year, which would be extremely unreliable.

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Furthermore, many students use senior year to explore and broaden their horizons, enrolling in various classes. This experience helps students learn more about their career options and what they enjoy and do not enjoy doing. At my school, Fountain Valley High School, students are extremely involved their senior year, taking rigorous AP classes and heightening their academic experience. This attitude during senior year completely contradicts Kirn’s statement about students during the twelfth grade, in which he states that senior year is for “oafish goofing off, chronic truancy, random bullying, etc.” Additionally, Kirn states that many students are already set on their college decisions by winter break due to early admissions, but this is actually false as a multitude of students do not actually apply through early admissions programs. 

Another reason why senior year should not be dismissed is because senior year allows for transitioning and maturing. The twelfth grade is the last year of a student’s pre-university education. However, just because seniors are considered at the top of the academic food chain amongst K-12 students, does not mean that they are necessarily prepared for post-high school life. With the liberation of senior year, many of these unprepared students will be stay unprepared in both the workforce and college. That is why, during this critical last phase of education, many students choose to find a job and involve themselves in volunteer work.

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Better yet, students could use this year, if they already know what field of study that they want to focus themselves on, to find internships specifically in this discipline. About 7 years ago, my sister effectively utilized her senior year and was hired as an intern at the local hospital, thus allowing her to not only fill up her college resume, but also gain much experience and become prepared in the workforce. As a result, she was able to graduate from UC Berkeley and attained a scholarship for medical school. One thing that Kirn states that contradicts my perspective is that “if it [senior year] was shortened and compressed, it might help students think more clearly about their paths in life.” In reality, this would actually create the opposite effect as students would not have adequate time to find their true calling and would be rushed into a career path that is not suitable for them, adding to their vulnerability in the workforce.

Also, the pace of classes would be upped by 25% as the required classes in school would remain the same, causing students to take much more difficult classes that they are not ready for at an earlier age. With this, the withdrawal of the twelfth grade would create great struggle in maturing and transitioning from high school to college and work.

Moreover, the tradition of senior year is one that cannot be replaced. Senior year is a wonderful year full of great experiences and memories that, if handed to junior year, would not be the same. Senior year is a time to both prepare for college and the future, as well as to enjoy the time with the people and friends that you have spent the last twelve years with. Irreplaceable events during senior year, such as homecoming, prom, senior breakfast, and much more.

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GIF ©2015 by Nia White [CC-by-2.0]
Sure, you could give these traditions to junior year, but with the rushed and increased pace of classes as well as the pressure and difficulty of being accepted to a college as previously mentioned, the experiences would be nothing less than exceptionally stressful and dull. As a result, one cannot truly enjoy their time before college with the replacement of senior year with junior year.

Kirn, however, believes that senior year was a waste of time. In fact, he left high school early and when he went to revisit old high school classmates, that one of them had senior year caused one of them to become “an unwed mother and a couple of them into victims of major car collisions.” Nonetheless, I believe that these incidents are rare and thus the probability of them occurring compared the vast and majestic experiences/traditions that senior year offers greatly favor the continuance of senior year.

Overall, Kirn’s arguments about the eradication of senior year have major flaws as it would cause problems in the disciplines of education, student development, and high school culture. Students would have difficulties in managing their classes at a rushed pace and find it more competitive and more challenging to be admitted into a college. Also, students would be less qualified to partake in university level academics and the workforce. Not to mention, high school’s senior year provides a magnificent experience that would become corrupt with its removal. Class dismissed? No, clearly, the senior year of high school should not be dismissed.

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