Three new courses that should be taught in high school are courses that teach skills required in a modern economy. While technology has been evolving rapidly, public high school curricula have been changing less quickly, frequently bogged down by necessary bureaucracy. Additionally, the modern expectation of higher education needs to be addressed at the high school level by giving students the opportunity to learn research and study skills. Between technological fluency and research and study skills, many new classes exist that would be extremely beneficial to high school students, particularly juniors and seniors.
First, a class should be offered at the high school level teaching Professional Internet Skills. Unlike traditional computer science classes, which focus on programming and using basic software, a Professional Internet Skills course would teach students about networking sites liked LinkedIn and resume-posting sites like Monster.com. In addition to learning specific popular sites for job-searching and professional networking, students would learn how to search for jobs using the Internet, create and post resumes, and tailor their personal websites and web presence to improve marketability. Since many of the students will be applying for college around the same time as taking the course, college applications, including personal essays and cover letters, would also be covered early in the curriculum.
These days it is no longer sufficient for students to simply know basic word processing and web browsing: High-performing students who will be pursuing white-collar jobs via the Internet will be advantaged by learning Professional Internet Skills in high school rather than on their own during or after college. Employers want workers who will not be “Internet liabilities” and will reflect well on the company, coming into the job already knowing the ins and outs of professional Internet usage and etiquette.
Secondly, a class should be offered teaching study skills for the post-secondary level. Many students may have gotten to their junior or senior year in high school without having to learn any real study skills. Without help, these students may suffer at college, finding that they can no longer breeze through courses without studying. Contemporary high school classes, set so most students pass, may be too easy for some higher-performing students, never forcing them to learn how to properly take notes, organize information, and study properly.
Teaching upper-level high school students how to handwrite notes and summarize, organize, and structure information would be a tremendous boon for colleges, which often struggle with incoming freshmen who know little about how to be studious. Many modern students, raised on electronics and the Internet, may not know how to summarize notes or take information from a lecture. Sadly, in today’s high-speed streaming and copy-and-paste world, too many teenagers may lack the ability to use old-fashioned academic tools. At many universities, however, using old-fashioned academic tools is still a necessity.
The ability to take notes and pay attention to a lecture is not just beneficial at college: In the business world many supervisors may train via lecture. High school students who do not learn how to study or take notes may also be disadvantaged as new employees struggling to learn new procedures or operations. Though a course on Post-Secondary Study Skills may not be as exciting or as modern as a course on Professional Internet Skills, it will be just as useful.
Finally, a course should be developed in Research Methods for upper-level high school students. Many high school students may have little knowledge when it comes to how to perform proper research. Students would benefit from a course explaining how to quickly and effectively seek out sources of reliable information, summarize and cite such information in a paper, and write acceptable bibliographies. Many students can search information via Google or Yahoo! but have difficulty ascertaining the best sources of reliable information, much less cite it.
Students would benefit greatly from knowing about research methods prior to entering college, where they might quickly be thrust into a research-demanding class. Not forcing these students to learn by the seat of their pants would be a great stress-reducer for the students and a great hassle-reducer for professors and university administrators. Since no institution of higher education wants a high dropout or failure rate, high schools should focus on preparing students for the rigors of such education prior to graduation.
All told, a higher-performing high school student would benefit greatly from one-semester courses in Professional Internet Skills, Post-Secondary Study Skills, and Research Methods.