Experienced Posters: Help Me Not Mess Up In Guiding My Kid Through The Next Three Years.
First post here. Found this forum about four years ago when it became apparent that the U.S. education system is byzantine and difficult to navigate without advice.
Our small family has a STEM kid interested in building. Could probably pursue a mechanical engineering degree, followed by a masters in either industrial design or business. That obviously might change but given that their goals are neither illegal, immoral or self-destructive, I’m cool with it.
Said kid currently attends a small CA public school with few high school clubs. Pretty much no activities after 3 p.m. (some clubs meet at lunch for 30 out of 35 minutes available, a handful are sponsored by teachers). Teachers aren’t able/willing/going to actively start or support new clubs; some parents try yearly to fill in the gap but it’s mostly for the k-8 grades. No high school math or science clubs, robotics, Olympiads, debate, model UN, etc. Clubs started by students have low turnout due to one class per grade. Campus vibe is casual and the popular students are the most social, not academic, ones. Most students attend class and either hang out or leave for their ECs - especially gifted ones. Feels more like a commuter college with the occasional school spirit day.
What this public school does offer is flexibility in classes. Next year’s tentative schedule:
-English 1/2 Cluster (9)
-World History & Geography 1/2 (9-10)
-Adv. Biology 1,2 (9-10)
-Chemistry 1,2 (10-12)
-Spanish 7/8 (year 4) (9-12)
-Math 150 (Calc w/ Analytic Geo I) / Math 151 (Calc w/ Analytic Geo II)
(seems to be a new dual-enrollment course taught on campus)
-PhysEd 1/2 (9)
-French 7/8 Honors (year 4) (9-12)
(tentative, taught online only via district, which is dropping courses each year)
The Math 150/151 kind of surprised us; kid is finishing up Int. Math 3 Ad. with an A, but could take Precalculus Honors 1/2, followed by AP Calc AB 1/2 at school.
First question: how much overlap is there between Int. Math 3 Ad. and Precalculus? Can a precalc textbook be checked out over the summer to brush up on topics? (Math is a favorite subject; student is a “smart/works hard” type.)
Next questions: are dual-enrollment courses better than AP courses these days on a transcript? It’s possible that an AP course at this school might be less rigorous than at other large local well-ranked public high schools; how can a parent evaluate this and compare it to DE options at a community college?
Further questions: given the above course load, could said student graduate in three years (assuming two English classes one of those years to account for AP English Language & Composition and AP English Lit)?
Student could study in the US or Canada without visa issues, so Canadian engineering schools for undergrad are a very serious consideration.
However, we are seeking merit, and I am trying to reverse-engineer things so that my kid can try out for some of the prestigious scholarships out there. Given that we don’t know what they are and what kind of student is earning them, we are starting this process now. Not all high-impact scholarships are publicized on school websites, as other recent threads have shown.
It’s possible this post might offend some posters because, childhood, so apologies in advance. Life has made me a planner. Better to know what’s out there in advance than hear about great opportunities afterwards. Always willing to hear advice, even if it can’t always be taken.
tl/dr: parent with no private counselor budget nor deep dive expertise from the public school counselor needs community help guiding a STEM student at an offbeat public school with few of the conventional on-campus resources through the next few years