Prerequisites help prepare students for challenging classes

Jacqueline Rayfield

For every graduating class emerging from Liberty, there has been a well-planned order of classes. Before English 10, students would take English 9; before Calculus, Pre-Calculus; and before AP Biology, Chemistry. While restrictive, this system ensured that every student had the background necessary to succeed.

This year, however, the rules of class requirements and prerequisites have become more relaxed. While the math prerequisites are still enforced, the order that students take science classes no longer matters. There are currently two students in AP Biology who have not taken chemistry and taking Lab Methods has become a rarity rather than a rule. As one of the four sophomores in AP Biology, I can attest to the fact that it is a challenge.

I remember coming by AP Biology teacher, Erin Stephen’s classroom at the end of last year, brimming with confidence from my regular biology class. She handed me the biggest textbook I had ever seen, followed by a packet with the instructions to learn an entire unit over the summer. Going home that day I was not only weighed down by the fifty-ton book in my backpack, but also by the realization of what a difficult year was ahead of me. While I was able to finish it, the summer homework cost me many long nights taking notes rather than enjoying the sunshine.

For students who have not taken the formerly required classes, the challenge of these college level courses is much higher. Even those taking both Chemistry and AP Biology at the same time will lack the previous knowledge of basic science fundamentals. Their determination is admirable, but ultimately, they will have to work much harder to succeed than students who followed the usual order.

Having students in advanced classes who are behind everyone else will also hinder the other students’ ability to learn by causing the teacher to move through material more slowly. Removing these pre-class requirements will harm all students, not just the ones who didn’t take prerequisites.

I’m not saying that we, as students, should avoid challenge. Taking challenging classes is a great thing, but there is a big difference between a challenge and an ill-informed choice. No one would attempt to go deep-sea diving without first learning to swim, and yet some students still think it is a good idea to dive into college level classes without learning the basics.

Liberty students should challenge themselves, but not harbor unrealistic expectations of their own skills. There shouldn’t be an age or grade limit on advanced classes, but there should be prerequisites to ensure a student is prepared.