Students’ schedules are getting a makeover in the future. Ursuline has lowered its required credits for graduation from 28 credits to 26 credits. But what does this mean? The class of 2024 will only be required to take three credits of Math, Social Studies and Science instead of four. One credit of Life Skills is required, and there will also be the option to take two free periods during the year. Juniors, sophomores and freshmen will also have some changes, but not as major as the upcoming class.
Academic Dean Elizabeth Smith said, “This [change] has been in discussion since 2017. A team of 17 Ursuline faculty from nearly every department contributed to this 2-year discussion.”
In 2017, Ursuline Academy created the Well-Being Task Force to meet monthly for discussions on tactics for improving student well-being. After researching other Independent Schools of the Southwest (ISAS) schools and reviewing Texas state requirements, they agreed on the benefits of lowering the required number of credits to graduate in order to provide flexibility in students’ schedules. With greater flexibility, students can pursue classes that match better with their own interests.
According to the announcement from Dean of Students Kayla Brown and Academic Dean Elizabeth Smith, “A reduction in graduation requirements will provide choice for our students to pursue electives and dive into the subject areas that they are passionate about.”
For example, take Bear Facts co-editor Abigail Mihalic ’20. “I think this change is a great idea that I would have greatly appreciated during my time at Ursuline. Since I am very passionate about Newspaper, I have made sacrifices to take the class all four years including giving up my free during sophomore year and taking four semesters of summer school. I have really enjoyed the classes I’ve taken, but it would have been nice to have more flexibility,” she said.
In the future, students who are passionate about specific subjects will be able to take more classes and electives that are related to their interests and spend less time on subjects they are less interested in. While some are concerned about colleges who require four years of some of these subjects for particular majors, the Ursuline administration believes that students will naturally take the classes needed for college.
The deans’ announcement further addresses that “to meet particular college entrance requirements, many of our students may choose to take more credits than those required by Ursuline. Each student will have guidance and assistance from their college counselor to ensure they know the requirements of the colleges they are interested in attending.”
Colleges are also increasingly looking for students who demonstrate specific interests instead of assembling a collection of clubs and classes across many areas. Delia-Rose Constantin 21’ believes that with this schedule change, “you are able to really show what you are interested in by focusing on a specific area of study.”
In addition to the decrease in required credits, there are also changes in subject requirements. Currently, students are required to take three years of a language. With the change however, if a student passes level 3 in any language, she is only required to take it for two years. To clarify, if she places into Spanish III Honors freshman year, she must go on to complete AP Spanish sophomore year and would then meet the language requirement. Junior year, she would have the choice not to take a language class.
Furthermore, each student will be required to take a Life Skills class for one semester in both her freshman and junior years covering topics including Study Skills, Speech and Presentation Skills, Social Media Responsibility, Finances, Self-Defense and Interview Skills.
In the end, this change was made to benefit the overall well-being and interests of the student body. And according to Smith and Brown, “This change will encourage our students to take more classes that they truly love… Education is moving in a more personalized direction. Classes should be taught in many different ways to meet the needs of students who all learn differently.”