“I Would’ve Rather Been Doing Homework”: Senior Opinions on Success Classes Part One

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“I Would’ve Rather Been Doing Homework”: Senior Opinions on Success Classes Part One

Success? Hunter Waasdorp, class of '18, poses with a Success workbook
Photo by Paige Lary

Success? Hunter Waasdorp, class of '18, poses with a Success workbook Photo by Paige Lary

Success? Hunter Waasdorp, class of '18, poses with a Success workbook Photo by Paige Lary

Success? Hunter Waasdorp, class of '18, poses with a Success workbook Photo by Paige Lary

Paige Lary, Directorial Editor

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If you were to mention the words “Freshman Focus” or “Success class” to any BUHS senior, you would almost certainly get a look of frustration, exasperation, or anger in return. The fact that many students were – and are – annoyed with the Success program is common knowledge on campus. But what do students really think about the classes? Were the classes as unhelpful as students claim? What were the positives – if any? Is the annoyance of students justified? Why does the program rouse such frustration in students?

In 2014, Bishop Union High School implemented Freshman Focus (now called Success 101), a semester-long program designed to help freshmen learn about life after high school, to explore career and college options, and to establish a ten year plan. After a successful first year, the school introduced Success 102, 103, and 104. Unlike Freshman Focus, which was taught during a period that otherwise would have been an elective class for most students, the Success classes are held during homeroom over the course of one quarter.

The senior class of 2018 was the first grade to take Success classes, and as the test subjects of the new program, it is important to hear the opinions of the students required to take the classes. To uncover the real opinions of seniors at Bishop Union High School, an anonymous Google form was sent out to every member of the senior class. This form asked students their opinions on each Success class, specifically the positives, negatives, and areas of the program that could be improved. Because the form was anonymous and results would not be disclosed to BUHS faculty or students, seniors had the opportunity to give their honest opinions without feeling pressure to conform their responses to the opinions of their teachers or of their peers.

Despite the negative reviews that the Success program has acquired over the years, many seniors believe that there are positives. Jacqui Miranda, along with many other students, feels that the greatest positive was being encouraged to “[think] about life after high school.” Miranda wrote that contemplating the future was “thought provoking,” and other seniors, such as Mohit Bhakta, appreciated making the ten year plans. According to Bhakta, “[writing a ten year plan] kind of set a goal for me and it really got my head clear on what I wanna do [after high school].”

The encouragement to focus on the future was important to many seniors who took the class. Students commended the program for exposing students to real-life issues regarding college, careers, and life beyond the doors of BUHS. Seniors enjoyed having the opportunity to look at different colleges and explore scholarship opportunities, and were grateful for having the experience of learning how to write resumes and how to partake in interviews.

According to the senior respondents, the Success program succeeds in inspiring high schoolers to think about the future and prepares them for resumes and interviews, but, in the opinion of the students, this is where the success stops.

The complaints about the way the program is taught and how it is ran were numerous. First and foremost, seniors were upset by the time taken out of their day by Success classes. For Success classes 102-104, students must give up their time in homeroom, which is often used as a study hall. According to one anonymous student, this is a stressful challenge, as they often “need help in other classes but…[were] unable to receive help because [they] couldn’t leave success class during homeroom.”

Taking up time from homeroom was one of the most common complaints. Another anonymous senior affirmed that “Taking up Homeroom, which personally made [them] struggle with homework, and making the class part of [their] grade… made missing assignments really detrimental.” 

Freshman Focus is also a controversial substitute for geography, which was cut in order to fit the Success classes into the school day. According to Kiley Beard, “the removal of geography” is “the worst disadvantage of Freshman Focus.” Grace Griego can contest to that – “I thought Alaska was an island because I never took geography…I can’t tell you what country France is next to. It’s really sad.” Senior Jacqui Miranda agreed with these classmates, stating, “The fact that the school decided [to prioritize Freshman Focus over] geography is typical of a rural school district that clearly doesn’t prioritize actual learning.”

The overall opinion seniors have on Freshman Focus is that, although it encourages planning ahead, the class is burdensome and removes opportunities to complete work or learn important subjects.

Or, as Lukas DiAngelo puts it, “The entire class was a waste of time, I would’ve rather been doing homework and I hate doing homework.”

{Keep your eye on the Bronco Roundup – Part 2 is on its way and will focus on the Success program after Freshman Focus.}