While Suncoast is known for its excellent sense of community and its ability to guide students to a brighter future, there are many students that switch, or even fail out of their specialized programs. Whether this be freshman dropping out of the difficulties that MSE proposes or current seniors accidentally failing out of IB, Suncoast arguably holds some of the most challenging programs with equally challenging curriculum. Taking this into consideration, our students need the most preparation they can receive before joining these programs to reduce the stress levels and dropout rate of our school as a whole.
While Suncoast holds a couple of orientations before school starts in which incoming freshmen learn about the programs, our students need more of these days before and throughout the early months of freshman year to truly decide for themselves if a certain program is the right fit for them. Simply learning about a program and experiencing it are two different things. Students need days in which they follow a full schedule of traditional IB, CS, MSE, or IIT classes.
June Hunt, the Program Coordinator of Suncoast, agrees. “Some students are able to transition from middle school to high school without any problems. But there are some students who may require a little support. They made need a little more help establishing balance and organizational skills,” Hunt said. This transition does not even take into account the difficult programs Suncoast has to offer.
IB students in particular would receive the most benefit from more preparation. This is partially due to the short amount of time in which the program takes place. Suncoast students who fall under the IB program don’t take IB specific classes until junior year and generally don’t know what to expect. This leads many to cope with unnecessary stress that could have easily been prevented.
Take Kian Soltani, for example. As a junior IB CS student, Soltani has already begun working on his Calculus Internal Assessment in addition to his CS required assignments. “I don’t see myself dropping from IB but at the same time, I would have really appreciated it if I knew about all of the internal and external assessments that IB students must complete beforehand,” Soltani said. “ I just wish someone would have told me before I was just thrown into all of these classes with not much guidance.”
Another student struggling with the difficulties of their program is Stephen Cadima, a junior in the IB program. Cadima began his experience at Suncoast in the MSE program. After struggling with his Precalculus class, Cadima decided to join IB only to discover that this path would be just as demanding. “The exams in all of my IB classes, along with research papers is extremely stressful considering I did not know any of the IB requirements before joining,” Cadima said. “I didn’t even know about the extended essay until a month after junior year when Ms. Edgar came to one of my classes”. Cadima is referring to Maria Edgar, the IB Coordinator, who visited IB Literature classes throughout Suncoast to inform students about the program.
The stress for students like Cadima, Soltani, and so many more will always be there, whether they had preparation for their programs or not. However, more preparation allows all students to fully understand the difficulties of their programs before entering. Aside from this, more program preparation would reduce the stress in Suncoast staff. Teachers and guidance counselors spend an incredible number of hours dealing with students who need to switch or drop from their programs. With more preparation, though, these students are not as likely to drop from their programs, allowing staff members to use this time in a more efficient manner.
While more orientation days would take more effort and planning for administration, the Charger family would benefit in the long run from more program preparation. Whether it be the reduction in stress for students and faculty, or the decrease in dropout rate among Suncoast as a whole, a little more preparation could never hurt us.