Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

Con: Should students strive to be academically well rounded?

High school is the time for students to explore their interests and, in essence, discover who they are. Being well rounded may offer more versatility, but focusing on one passion allows for an equally diverse skill set while also fostering greater understanding of a topic and deeper academic engagement.

Having passions can set students up for success in their futures. The main focus of high school is preparing students for college and the “real world” through gaining valuable skills. Aside from experiences and skill sets learned, a majority of students attend college post-graduation. In an academically competitive community such as Gunn, strong grades and high standardized test scores are commonplace. A clear academic passion helps students stand out to college admissions committees. Taking a specific course load that is enjoyable but also academically challenging can demonstrate one’s strength and passion within a certain subject. According to U.S. News, taking academically rigorous classes signals to colleges a student’s intellectual curiosity, a passion for their field of study and a strong work ethic. For example, a student passionate about science can take AP Biology, AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry to display their strong interest in the subject as well as demonstrate their ambition and hard work. Besides honing academic knowledge, students are also able to master other skills—such as time management or organization—that can benefit them in the future.

Part of the joy of following a passion is finding people who share the same interest. In high school, joining clubs or internships are all viable options for diving into specific academic interests. For example, someone with a passion for literature can join a creative writing or book club to expand and share their knowledge with others. Focusing on one passion also allows students to hone in on their strengths, in turn making them more successful in their endeavors. That isn’t to say that students should ignore other aspects of their studies. Rather, they should try embracing their strengths while also maintaining a reasonable balance between the other subjects. In a survey conducted by BestColleges, a college editorial and resources website, 40% of students chose their field of study because of their passion and 34% chose it because they had a dream job in mind. This result demonstrates how focusing on one academic passion in high school can also benefit students when choosing college majors and create a stepping stone toward a “dream job”after graduation.

Critics may argue that being well rounded offers people a more diverse skill set and provides more options in the future. However, a singular passion still offers plenty of skills, opportunities and fields to go into. For instance, if a student has a passion for math, they can pursue careers in finance, banking or education. Each academic subject is unique, and there are valuable lessons to take away from all subjects. Additionally, many of the strengths developed in a particular field are interchangeable with others—skills learned from a singular academic passion can be applied in another field. For instance, logic abilities developed from a STEM passion can be reflected in the argumentative or analytical aspect of an English class.

Students should use their strengths to their advantage by selecting courses that align with what they are passionate about. Diving into one passion can enhance an academic experience and lead to personal growth and happiness.

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