Why take all college classes during your senior year instead of making your final days of high school as easy as possible? College-preparatory classes help students experience what college will be like.

I am in my final year at Grand Rapids Senior High School taking college classes, and I can tell you that they are demanding and force you to think, not only as a high schooler but as if you were already sitting in a college classroom. Students should stop taking the easy route their final years when they can experience college courses — without having to pay for them.

Cost is a major factor in college decisions. College-preparatory classes not only help you experience a college classroom setting, they provide the opportunity to test in them and get college credit, which can be used to skip over certain classes once you reach higher education. The ability to be able to skip over classes once in college helps students save money. The credits can also help students get out of college faster, saving more money on tuition, housing, food service, etc.

These opportunities in high school are free, so why don’t more high school seniors take the chance and experience them? Preparing early for college is rewarding — without having to pay thousands of dollars for it.

Too many kids experience extreme laziness at the end of their high school careers. Students want to do the least possible so they can graduate and get away. Some take only four classes in a school day. “Senior slide” and “senioritis” refer to seniors’ excuses for no longer challenging themselves.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

College-preparatory classes give seniors deadlines to meet. Slacking off and laziness are not options. Prep classes force students to work hard and put them a step ahead of others who slacked during their final high school days. The jump from high school to college will be more significant for the slackers.

Teachers implementing actual college procedures in these classes offers students a glimpse of the college experience. These teachers structure lessons through a college professor. It is important that the communication between professors and high school teachers is apparent, because kids want credit for these classes, and coordination is paramount to a good education.

With good instruction from teachers via professors at the University of Minnesota Duluth, we seniors in Grand Rapids are able to get quality experiences that others miss out on, often just because they want to be lazy and not push themselves.

The impacts a person's educational decisions have on them affects so many things in college: cost, curriculum, and motivation, all of which can be helped with college-preparatory classes.

Students need to challenge themselves, even during senior year. Taking an easy year only hurts you in the long run, whereas getting the experience of hard classes gives you the mentality and commitment to do the work right and finish it on time.

My advice to younger students: challenge yourselves, make yourselves better every day, learn new things, and have fun. Because although high school is short, you’ll learn new things to help guide you in the future forever.

Hunter David Hillman of Cohasset researched and wrote this originally as part of an assignment for his English class at Grand Rapids Senior High School.