Dear Grade-Driven Freshmen and Sophomores…

Sr. Ross teaches AP Spanish Language & Culture during two class periods both first and second semester. Jocelyn Torres, senior, Morgan Bateman, senior, Adam Bateman, senior, Megan Farrell, junior, and all of Ross’s students have built close relationships with him over the course of the class.

Dear the freshmen and sophomores who are just as grade driven as I was two years ago,

I am writing to you today to inform you of the importance of taking a special interest/multi-semester class. By special interest class, I mean classes such as newspaper, yearbook, Mainstage (advanced theatre), Spanish V & VI and others alike. Although these classes, aside from Spanish VI/AP, only earn a student five points to their GPA, special interest courses add something to a college application and, more importantly, add even more to your high school experience.

Because the academic advantages are most likely more important to you than the social benefits you earn from a special interest class, I’ll discuss the boring stuff first.

I have no expertise in predicting who will earn admission into UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, or any other university and I am not offering any algorithm to do so. However, it is a known fact that admissions offices look for a well-rounded student. “Well, I don’t play any sports or have any substantial talent,” you might think. So how can you be that well rounded student that any university would want?

I contacted the UNC Chapel Hill Admissions Office regarding how they view a student’s schedule. Ashley Memory, the Sr. Assistant Director of Admissions at UNC, replied with the following statement via email: “While we do like to see strong students challenge themselves by taking rigorous courses, at the same time, if a student has an opportunity to take a class in a field of special interest to them, we encourage them to do so. We recognize that our applicants are young people and it’s exciting to see them continue to explore the world around them.”

Overall, the UNC admissions office seeks the students who can both pursue interests and take AP courses. The institution wants to ensure that rising freshman will arrive at UNC “ready to excel” and a more “rigorous” schedule exemplifies that, however the officers see the importance of personal interests at the high school level.

In contrast, schools such as Clemson University and the University of Georgia admit to prioritizing GPA and test scores. This being the case for some universities, it is important to consider this when constructing one’s schedule, of course, if admission is that important to the student.

I must admit that when I joined the newspaper program at Leesville, it did cross my mind that the majority of Editor In Chiefs received admission to UNC (my dream school, everyone’s dream school).

So, if I could be EIC then I could go to UNC, right?

Aside from the application builders that special interest classes create, extended elective classes also allow for a unique academic environment. For example, I have spent six semesters in Leesville’s newspaper course, room 240. The environment in this classroom and classrooms alike permit closer relationships to form between the students and the teachers. Although a student may not be best friends with all other students in the class, after so many weeks together, the classroom will become a comfortable, and hopefully enjoyable, environment to learn and pursue interests.

In some special interests courses specifically, as cliche as it may sound, students find a family within their classes. Whether it’s complaining about homework in the class GroupMe or celebrating a random Tuesday with a classroom potluck, students grow closer to each other and their teacher.

I am lucky enough to spend two of four class periods in one of two of my special interest courses, newspaper and AP Spanish, alongside some of my best friends and favorite teachers. If you have the interest and you have the room in your schedule, considering signing up for a special interest, multi-semester course.



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