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Engineered For Honors Credit

Braedon Harris, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Students entering high school are pressed with major questions. They are asked to make life-changing decisions, like choosing a college and career path. The pressure is especially heavy on MST students, who are expected to go above and beyond their peers. It is a whole new world, way different than middle school. Amidst the transition, it’s quite easy for students to overlook the smaller things, like the weight of the classes they choose.

“MST is a magnet program that offers concentration in math, science, and technology related courses,” said MST coordinator Audrey Smallwood.

It would be easy to assume that all MST classes have the same effect on your GPA. They all have the same title, and they’re all either core classes or electives. An MST engineering course and an MST medical course, for example, are both electives, so one might assume they’d both have the same weight, and simply choose the course that aligns with the career path they’re interested in taking.

It turns out, though, that engineering courses, although labeled as MST, aren’t weighted the same as many of the other MST courses. They’re counted as a regulars course despite being equally as challenging, if not more, than any other class categorized as MST.

With such varying curriculums, some may argue that it’s difficult to determine which courses are more challenging. However, even students who fall under different pathways have been able to take a glimpse into both the engineering and medical tracks.

“On a lot of days, if you walk into the medical field classrooms, at least on the beginners’ levels of sophomores and juniors, you can see people just sitting down playing cards or doing nothing,” said junior Esteban Zapata, who has completed a language endorsement and is currently working on another in computer science. “While they may have finished the work, I don’t think they utilize that time wisely.”

The MST program is designed to give students the knowledge they need to make career choices and see what they could possibly do in the future. However, the lower weight of engineering courses has led some students to drop their endorsement completely, because they see no benefit in pursuing a career concentration that seems less important.

“Personally, I know a lot of students don’t take certain courses just because of the lower grade point average,” Zapata said. “For example, a lot of people are interested in business but will never take that class just because of the fact that it’s a regulars class.”

A lot of students begin an endorsement freshman year and make their high school course plan based on the classes they like and are interested in, unaware of how much they weigh. However, at some point they realize that the classes they are interested in may affect their GPA. This often leaves them in their counselor’s office sophomore and junior years frantically changing their schedule before they’re stuck in a class with lower grade points.

“You can’t just do it because of GPA,” said counselor Jacob Garza. “You have to do what you like, because your grades will reflect that. I think for a lot of students, if they’re interested there is no major effect grade-wise, but if it is something that they just want to change, then they might realize that changing was a bad decision.”

With many parents and students both concerned and frustrated, the administration has been working with people at the district level in an effort to find a solution and get the grade points changed.

“We’re going to put all this data together along with engineering tracks to show that we have really amazing classes,” Smallwood said. “We’re also going to mention the internships that engineering is real big on to show that some kids actively choose not to take engineering classes because of the GPA points. If we can show all these amazing classes that these kids are missing out on and all these internships that these kids are missing out on, then we can justify why those classes should receive honors credit.”

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