MythBusters: Electives at MMS/SRHS

It’s that time of year again when students are being asked by counselors what their elective choices are for next school year.  It’s also at this time where I hear exaggerations, misinformation, and sometimes downright lies about certain details regarding a student’s “need” to take certain classes in order to either succeed in, or simply survive through, middle or high school.  If you or your student are conflicted or unsure about how electives impact a student’s academic career between now and high school graduation, please read on…

Myth #1: “I just can’t fit music into my schedule.”
Usually when I hear that, what I’m really hearing from the student is, “I’m just not interested in music that deeply anymore.”  That’s perfectly fine!  It’s okay that you would rather fill your time with other interests and activities.  That’s one of the best things about electives; if you don’t want to take it, then you don’t have to!  Choosing a different elective if you’re no longer interested in music is mutually beneficial for you, your would-be music classmates, and your would-be music director!  Your honesty would be appreciated over the thinly-veiled excuse, and I will personally wish you the best of luck in your new pursuit.  However, if you truly do think that you can’t fit music into your schedule in middle or high school, then you need take a look at this chart that demonstrates how easily music classes can fit into a SDUSD student’s high school career.

Myth #2: “I was told that I need to take Spanish in middle school in order to succeed/survive/graduate from high school.”
While I have absolutely nothing against Spanish classes in middle school, this is an outright falsehood.  There is more than enough time to take Spanish, or any other world language for that matter, in high school, in addition to four complete years of music as an elective.  See that very same chart from Myth #1 to see how Myth #2 couldn’t possibly be true.  If it were a requirement to take Spanish in middle school, then you would automatically be scheduled for it at some point during middle school.  Also, if the requirements prevented students from being in music classes, why would music classes even exist in middle and high school?!?!

Myth #3: “I don’t have time to take music in middle/high school.  I need to focus on my academics.”
While academics are certainly important, they only make up “about 20% to 25% of the entire picture of college acceptance,” according to my personal source, who is an admissions officer at one of the two public universities here in San Diego.  Extracurricular activities “share an equally important role” in the equation, according to my source.  Music activities like band, orchestra, and choir are curricular activities that occur during the school day, but also incur significant extracurricular effort and time, such as home practice, concerts, and competitions to name a few, and are considered on the same level as extracurriculars by admissions officers.  And don’t go overboard by joining 10 clubs and volunteering at six different places!  “Colleges and universities can see right through that,” says my source.  Focusing on one, two, or maybe even three particular passions of yours is preferred.  In addition, “we are looking for growth, progress, and success in those activities, as well as demonstration of commitment through multi-year participation.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  This article sums up the bigger picture of college admissions in a clear and concise way.  This fairly comprehensive list also does a good job of ranking the top 12 things colleges are looking for in applicants.  Music fits into the top half of their priorities in item #5!

Still have questions or have other elective myths that need busting?  Feel free to email me anytime about them!