Those infamous A-G requirements. It feels like all of us working in the education field often toss around the question of “Is he/she on track to meet his/her A-G requirements?” when discussing college with parents, but how often do we take the time to explain what these requirements mean to them?
According to the University of California’s A-G guide, “the intent of the “a-g” subject requirements is to ensure that students have attained a body of general knowledge that will provide breadth and perspective to new, more advanced study.” Thus, in order for students to be eligible to even qualify to apply to CSUs or UCs, students must satisfy a list of courses that are meant to be academically challenging as well as provide a well-rounded exposure to all content areas to ensure they are “prepared” for college success.
As we officially enter college application season, I want to shed light on the need for us all to do a better job of creating awareness for A-G requirements, so that students with college dreams are not left heartbroken at the last minute because they are told by their counselor that they did not meet the minimum requirements to apply.
In one of my visits to one of the local high schools in my community, I came across great visuals posted outside each classroom clearly stating which “A-G” requirement that class satisfied. While it was a small gesture, I realized in that moment, how necessary it was to have this form of awareness around course requirements in ALL high schools. If we are truly preparing our students to be college ready, shouldn’t ensuring they know what each class they take satisfies be mandatory for schools? In speaking to the principal, she shared that the A-G visuals outside every classroom were a result of creative brilliance form Cynthia Rascon & Christina Parkhill, her Avid Coordinator & Teacher. She also shed light on another issue that perhaps adds to the larger opportunity gap: not all teachers were aware of which A-G requirement their own classes satisfied.
I know that simple poster visuals are not the solution to ensuring students are not just graduating high school, but are also graduating with A-G completion. However, I do believe that it is a starting point. If all high schools were required to demonstrate that their class meets one of the A-G required courses, and if not, state it as so, then we can at least provide students the tools to advocate for themselves and take more ownership over the courses they take. One too many students with immense potential has fallen through the cracks because they were not “advised” correctly or because they missed one or two classes to satisfy the basic A-G requirements to at least be eligible to apply to college. It is time that we require more transparency from high schools and provide students first-hand knowledge around how each class they take sets them on the path to A-G completion or not.
Even if not all students choose to go to college, I believe it is still our responsibility to ensure students are provided that choice. Let’s make A-G awareness plans a requirement at all California high schools–we have failed enough students.
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