DOES FHS prepare students for university?

Does Fredericton High School prepare students for university?

By Tanisha L.

 I am excited to graduate. I have been attending Fredericton High School for the past four years and for the most part, I have enjoyed my years spent at FHS. The four years have gone by so quickly, they have basically flown by. I can’t believe that within the next six months I will be graduated and on my way to university. I have been accepted to university since the month of October and I am really looking forward to going to University of New Brunswick to study chemical engineering. Sometimes though, I worry about whether or not I am really prepared for university. Am I ready to move on from high school?  Did Fredericton High really prepare me for my further studies at university?

Four hundred and thirty two students are potentially graduating this June at Fredericton High School.  Hopefully, they will all graduate and move on to pursue post-secondary education in the fall. Will these FHS graduates really be prepared for university? Does Fredericton High School really prepare their students for post-secondary education?

Shane Thomas, the principal of Fredericton High School, believes that FHS absolutely does prepare students for university.

“Yes, we do prepare them for university but the most important aspect for students is to look beyond the basic entrance requirements,” said Thomas. He believes that simply achieving the entrance requirements is not good enough and many students only work to achieve the bare minimum entrance requirements for universities.

The problem schools face in trying to prepare students for university is that students don’t even know what they want to do. “It wasn’t until my second year of university that I wanted to be an educator,” said Thomas. Since students do not know what they want to do, they do not make good course selections that will prepare them for the future.

“FHS offers so much above and beyond the staple courses. There is something here for everyone,” he said. Fredericton High does offer a wide variety of courses. There is an assortment of classes for students to choose. During grade eleven and twelve, students are able to choose the majority of their courses depending on their interests.

Students have the opportunity in their second semester of grade twelve to take dual credits with UNB. They would take the course at the university and would get the credit at UNB and FHS. “This is a great opportunity and training for students,” said Thomas.

FHS students are very fortunate to have two excellent universities in the city of Fredericton. University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University are less than two kilometers away from Fredericton High School and are a great post-secondary option for FHS students.

“We still have people coming back to upgrade,” he said. Usually, the students who return to Fredericton High after they graduate are upgrading their math. Thomas encourages students to make good course selections so that they are well prepared for university.

Adriane Colpitts, an FHS graduate, is in her second year of nursing at UNB. She feels that to be successful in university, you need to work hard.

“University is more about working hard than being smart; although, it does help to be a little smart. Ideally high school would be designed to help students develop a work ethic but it is not,” said Colpitts. “The course content is not challenging enough and you waste a lot of time in class doing nothing.”

Because of her dyslexia, Colpitts developed the work ethic in high school which has helped her be successful in university.

“The only reason why I have done well in university is because I have a learning disability and I had to work really hard in high school to keep my average in the 90s,” she said.

Kathleen McDonald graduated from FHS in 2011 and is in her second year of arts at St. Thomas University. She believes that high school doesn’t really prepare students for university.

“It (high school) prepares you socially and how to conduct yourself as a professional student but there are lots of stuff you never learn and first year university you are stuck trying to figure it all out,” McDonald said. “Each professor likes things done a different way, each mark different.”

McDonald encourages students to visit their professors if they need help. “If you need help you need to go and get it, find the time to get to talk to your professors,” she said. “You get to choose who your professor is for the most part so figuring out the good ones from the day one which ones cater to your learning style.”

Since university offer courses in the morning, afternoon and evening, it is important to figure out when you are able to learn best. “Even figuring out that you are a person who does better with morning classes over classes later in the day,” said McDonald.

Andrew Read is a physics teacher at Fredericton High School. He graduated from FHS as a student and believes that the school does prepare student for post-secondary education.

“I do think that FHS does a good job of preparing students for university,” said Read.  “I believe that because of the size of the school, students have the opportunity to take courses in their area of interest at the level they feel is appropriate.”

Fredericton High School is a large school, with approximately two thousand students who come Monday through Friday to learn. As mentioned before, FHS does offer a wide variety of courses for students to choose from and some of these courses are meant to challenge students at a university level in the high school classroom.

“There are courses in this school that are specifically designed to give students a university level course in the high school environment,” he said.  “There are definitely aspects of university that are hard to prepare students for … but I believe that FHS is one of the leaders in our province in its ability to help students take their next step.”

David Kerr graduated last year from Fredericton High School and is currently studying arts at UNB. He feels like it depends on the courses whether or not students are prepared for university.

“I feel that the higher level classes I took did a good job preparing me for the classes that I am currently taking, however, lower level classes are not even remotely comparable to the experience of university,” said Kerr. “The amount of work that is needed to succeed in a university setting was only really evident in the level 1 classes and AP class that I took.”

Fredericton High School offers several Advance Placement (AP) classes for students. When students write the AP exam, they will get advanced placement at UNB which means that they have already received one credit at UNB. It is basically like taking a university course in high school. FHS offers AP classes such as psychology, physics and calculus.

FHS offers three levels of difficulty for the courses that students select. Level one courses are enriched courses available for strong, capable students who are seeking a challenge in their studies. Level two courses are regular, academic classes and are included as being the entrance requirements for many universities. Level three courses are general courses for students who are struggling in their classes and are not able to be successful in academic classes. In grade eleven and twelve, students get to choose the level of difficulty of their classes and which classes they want to take.

Dan Cochrane is an economics professor at UNB. He teaches the first year students once a week and feels that it is not up to the high school to prepare students for university.

“It depends on the student, not high school. Some students are well prepared in what they want to do and others are not. It is whether or not the students are willing to put in the work,” said Cochrane.

So, does Fredericton High School really prepare students for university? It would be impossible for any high school to completely prepare every student for university but FHS does a pretty good job at preparing students for their post-secondary education. It is really important for students to choose their courses wisely and to work hard to be able to develop the work ethics to be able to apply them to university studies. Students must be working for more than the basic entrance requirements and need to challenge themselves in their course selections. At the end of the day, it is the students who are responsible for their own learning. The students need to take control of their learning so that they may be successful and work to their full potential.

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