Opinion: Why Menlo should offer more high-level humanities courses

A highlight of a Menlo education is the strong STEM program. But does Menlo favor STEM too much in comparison to humanities? Staff photo by Eva Herr.

By Eva Herr

With Menlo being in the heart of Silicon Valley, it does not come as a surprise that the school offers a strong selection of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) classes.

But for the humanities-driven students, there are less opportunities to take advanced humanities classes. Not only are there less humanities courses offered but there are also limited offered early in high school and less prerequisites than their STEM counterparts.

Just by comparing the amount of STEM honors classes with humanities honors classes one can see that there are far more opportunities for challenging yourself in the STEM field. There are 10 Advanced Placement (AP) or Advanced Topic (AT) STEM classes offered while there are only five AP humanities classes offered and no AT classes. In addition, there are challenging classes such as ASR and BioTech which help STEM students highlight their commitment to and interest in the STEM field.

That being said, Menlo recently added the new IP program which will help create a difficult humanities opportunity for students. However, this program is new and will not gain attention or recognition by colleges for years, therefore it will not benefit the humanities-driven students at the school today.

Not only are there more STEM classes offered, but students are given the opportunity to take numerous high level STEM classes as early as their sophomore year. For example, a capable STEM student could theoretically be enrolled in Accelerated Chemistry, Honors Algebra, AP Physics, and AP Computer Science as a sophomore. Because AP U.S History is now available to sophomores, sophomores have a chance to take this AP class earlier in their high-school career, but that single high-level humanities class pales in comparison to the four offered in the STEM fields.

Lastly, often the STEM classes have more strict prerequisites, guaranteeing that only devoted students will be placed in high level classes whereas AP humanities requirements are lower. For example, you must receive an A in Physics to take AP Physics, whereas you need a B+ in English to take AP Literature and an A- in History to take AP U.S. History.

Additionally, you can take AP Computer Science after just a short class during the summer if you have taken 2 years of honors math, rather than doing a full year of the introductory class for non-honors math students.

While the opportunities available to STEM students are a great aspect of the school’s curriculum, the school should also offer more advanced humanities classes.

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