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Honors vs regular classes in high school

wyograd76wyograd76 Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
edited March 2013 in College Admissions
This may have already been discussed on this board, if so I apologize. My search didn't turn up what I was looking for.
I am an 8th grade teacher, currently teaching an honors math class. Soon my students will be registering for high school courses for next year. Our district poilicy is that students may not continue in honors if their average is below 85. I have quite a few students in the 85-89 range, who must work very hard to be there. The other math teacher and I disagree on what path these students should take. My personal opinion is that as long as they are willing to do the work, they should stay in honors math for next year. I think an 85 in an honors class will carry more weight with college admissions than a 95 in a regular math class. I thought colleges liked to see that a student challenged himself. The other teacher disagrees, and cautioned his classes that colleges would much rather see a 99 in regular math than an 85 in honors, and the low honors grade would hinder college admission.
What are your thoughts, wise parents?
Post edited by wyograd76 on

Replies to: Honors vs regular classes in high school

  • danielle12gdanielle12g Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    Hey! I'm not a parent but can answer this question as a senior involved in the college application process. First, I'd like to say that taking easier classes is NOT the way to go. Colleges want to see that a student challenges themselves. For example, I got into The Unviersity of North Carolina CH with a 3.5 while a girl with a 4.0 was rejected. This is because I have taken sevral Honors and AP level courses. A "B" grade in an AP course is much better than an "A" in a regular one. If you don't challenge yourself then colleges will think you're not dedicated. This has been my experience at an extremely competitive high school...though i'm pretty sure that this applies everywhere... Also you can't get the 4.3 or 4.5 GPA's that some people have without taking advanced classes.
  • HollyloveHollylove Registered User Posts: 421 Member
    well, not a parent, but...whenever admissions counselors have come to give talks at my school, the "A in regular or B in honors?" question has always come up. their response is always "well, we'd rather see an A in honors."

    ...which doesn't really answer the question either way, haha. but in my experience, i think challenging yourself is better.
  • rodneyrodney Registered User Posts: 9,406 Senior Member
    wyograd: I am a teacher and a parent who has already gone through this process once with one child....and this has been discussed in detail elsewhere on CC....but there is not one straight answer unfortunately.....different levels of colleges (and public v private),will look at honors and regular classes in different ways; I think what you have to investigate in your own district when making recs for 9th grade is how the placement will affect the student going forward....If placing the student in a regular class is going to eliminate their ability to move up if performance exceeds expectations than you might as well let them try in honors....It totally depends on your school district; here, if a student is not placed in honors math in 6th grade (yup, at 11 years old), they NEVER have the opportunity to reach Calculus in high school....just the way the tracks work....

    But, I do not believe that it is always better to get the B in honors....especially if you are not the kind of student who will be applying to top tier schools.....and, yes, there will be many on CC who disagree with me, so stay tuned.....
  • hmom5hmom5 - Posts: 10,882 Senior Member
    In general what the top colleges say is that they want to see top grades in top classes.

    I'm assuming you're not at a school where most want HYPS , because if you were, all these kid's parents would be telling them what to do, not their teachers!

    In some states, it appears that they just use the average without considering strength of courses at the city/state colleges. So you should investigate your state college admission policies for an answer for those schools.

    I don't think there's a private college in the land that wouldn't prefer to see the honors classes.
  • panicpanic - Posts: 966 Member
    I agree with the OP... generally, I had to work harder to get an 85 in an honors class than a 95 in a regular class. It annoys me when people understate the difficulty of honors.
  • college3231college3231 Registered User Posts: 560 Member
    I'm a student also, but I definitely agree with previous posters saying to take the Honors Classes. Colleges seem to want students who push themselves to go farther. Of course they want to see the best grades possible, but challenging yourself and growing seems much more impressive from my experience.
  • rodneyrodney Registered User Posts: 9,406 Senior Member
    ^^if your HS is worth anything, even the kids in regular classes should be working for the 85.....The ridiculous grade inflation rampant around the country is insane.....

    hmom: in terms of all private colleges "wanting" to see the honors classes....yea, sure, they can want it, doesn't mean they are all going to get it....especially if you go to a school where honors and AP's are not a dime a dozen....or where you're not even allowed to take them without being an "A" student in regular.....

    Again, I still think it depends on the tier of school we are talking about......
  • ModadunnModadunn Registered User Posts: 6,263 Senior Member
    Here's what I say: If it doesn't affect the self esteem of those getting the 85% in honors, than stay in the honor's class. However, there are students who in working their butts off for a B end up feeling like they just aren't smart enough. This translates into other areas of their life and they end up feeling inadequate in general. Therefore, I think this is something to be considered on an individual basis and a kid who cannot keep up with the level of work in an honors or accelerated class should not think he/she is a failure if they want to switch to "regular" math at some point.

    I agree that most Adcoms answer the question that they like to see the A in honors vs the B in honors and A in regular math. However, my son has a very very consistent B+ in accelerated and AP Math throughout upper school. If he had been in regular math he surely would have aced the class, but he wouldn't have learned nearly as much. And another thing, had he not been in accelerated math he would have not been able to easily register for accelerated sciences and in those he's always had straight A's.
  • rodneyrodney Registered User Posts: 9,406 Senior Member
    totally agree with Modadunn (as usual)...Now, I will return to the "B" student thread......
  • ChoklitRainChoklitRain - Posts: 2,625 Senior Member
    if the high school ranks students by GPA, you could very easily find out how a B in honors stacks up against an A in regular.
  • svtcobrasvtcobra Registered User Posts: 206 Junior Member
    I'm not a parent, but a current HS senior. This is a very good question and I've put a lot of thought into it.

    I think it depends on what grades they are getting in other honors classes. If they are mostly Bs, they should probably switch to regular math. If they're mostly As, staying in honors math would probably be okay.

    It seems that mostly As and some Bs in a sort-of rigorous curriculum is better than mostly Bs in a very rigorous curriculum. While I think that a student with the tough classes does actually learn more and benefits from challenging themselves, learning how to "jump through hoops" is just as important in life as intelligence. College admissions is not immune to this. Knowledge and rigor are important, but you have to choose wisely and play your cards right.

    When you ask admissions officers if a B in honors/AP is better than an A in a regular class, they ALWAYS reply with "it's better to have an A in honors/AP". If challenging yourself but coming up short is not viewed any better than getting an easy A, then why get the B and hurt your GPA? Admissions officers are people, and they have first impressions just like everyone else. For them, unfortunately, the first impression will be GPA and class rank, both of which are significantly hurt by a B in any class.

    (edit: of course, either case is better than As in all regular-level classes. Having tough courses is important, but a student taking a schedule that is too much for him/her is a bad idea.)
  • twomulestwomules - Posts: 1,207 Senior Member
    We have always told our daughters to take the hardest classes they are eligible for. Some of our oldest daughter's friends didn't because the parents thought it would be "too much homework and spoil the best years of theirs lives" or I was actually told that it would interfere with the sport. Boggled my mind.

    Of course if the workload is interfering with one's mental health or sleep, dial it back a little. Otherwise don't be afraid of a B and a little humility.
  • khakikhaki Registered User Posts: 406 Member
    I don't think this should be a factor in your decision in any way. Put the kids where they'll learn best.
  • Shortiegal107Shortiegal107 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Hey I'm a freshman in high school and my parents are thinking about putting me into collegiate high school, we already know bunches of pros, but what are some cons that they aren't telling us? Please let me know, thanks.
  • smartypants15smartypants15 Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I'm in highschool right now with almost all honors except math. I dropped the honors level math course at my school because I felt like it was to much work having all honors. Considering that this was my first year in highschool I didn't know what to expect of all honors classes so I dropped one, only to regret it completely. This regular math course is much to easy for me and right now I have a 105 A + in that course.

    At my school an A in a regular class is a 4.0 GPA while in a honors class it would be a 5.0. This means that a B in a honors class is a 4.0 GPA so technically it would be the same as having an A in a regular class. This is how it is in my school so I don't know how it works where you live, but an in a honors class would be a lot better.
This discussion has been closed.