During my junior year of college, I spent a semester studying in Rome. Being young and full of adventurous energy, I decided to go over early and travel around before classes began.
Being young and also full of impulsive bravado, I decided that it would be a good idea to just show up in the Eternal City with no real plan as to where I was staying or how to get there, with 3 months’ worth of luggage in tow.
I have heard people throw about the phrase, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
I think a more accurate phrase would be, “If you want to make God laugh, show up in a foreign city with no earthly idea of what you are doing, so that you find yourself wandering up and down a busy highway at night with 2 large suitcases and a guitar for several hours, wondering if you are even in Italy.”
I imagine that phrase probably won’t catch on anytime soon, but it should.
Without having anything that could realistically be called a plan, I ended up biting off more than I could chew. This sometimes happens with students and parents I speak to here at Seton, especially new families who might not be aware of the challenging nature of our program.
While every student is different, there are a few pointers I would like to suggest so that you don’t find yourselves wandering feverish and crazed in a foreign land.
High School Course Catalog
As I have mentioned before in this column, the High School Course Catalog is an excellent resource for choosing courses, and one of the most useful items is the Recommended Course schedule.
The different diploma options are laid out with the various course requirements and electives shown over all four years. The Advanced Diploma is the most challenging option and requires six and a half credits of courses each year. But there is a reason we recommend six and half and not eight.
We have found that students who take more than the recommended course load tend to struggle when trying to get their work completed and often fall behind. Granted some people want their children living in the basement at the age of 25 still trying to finish up that book analysis from English 11.
If that is the case, disregard this column. But I assume that sentiment does not apply to many.
Keep the Good GPA
Moreover, taking on an extreme number of courses tends to correlate with a decrease in GPA. While it is certainly important to take as rigorous a course load as possible for college acceptance, it is even more important to keep grades up.
A good GPA is something of a sine qua non for colleges. Having nine courses senior year with Calculus, Physics, and Latin 4 might look great, but the shine is taken off a bit when the student is also sporting a 1.8 cumulative GPA.
As always, if there are any questions when choosing courses, give us a call. We will do our best to advise you on the best path for your students.
At least we will try to keep them from arguing with Italian bus drivers in broken fragments of Latin.
Maybe Latin 4 is a good idea…