Editorial: Overcrowded OnRamps classes causes stress

Editorial Board

When counselors and teachers pitch OnRamps courses to students, it is often described as a “soft start” to college. It’s an attractive proposition to many students who like the idea of earning college credit for free without having to leave their high school campus.

These dual credit courses are taught by Akins teachers so they are not as scary to take as those taught by college professors. According to the OnRamps website, these courses were designed “to replicate a rigorous, college-level learning experience and to meet postsecondary standards of quality, depth, and complexity.” Recently, OnRamps courses have become more popular in some ways than AP courses because there is no additional high-stakes test that determines if you earn the credit.

However, recently we have observed cases in which some OnRamps classes are overcrowded and students are being prevented from dropping despite legitimate reasons for their requests.

We believe that improvements can be made to the OnRamps program to ensure that students are benefiting from this valuable program while avoiding unnecessary stress and hassles. Among the student body, OnRamps appears to have taken the status of the popular class to take among high-achieving students. This popularity means that there are many other students signing up for these classes because they feel social pressure to be with the other “smart kids.”

Inevitably, students often find out that they are not prepared to take OnRamps within the first few days or weeks of the class.

This popularity means that there are many other students signing up for these classes because they feel social pressure to be with the other ‘smart kids.’”

— Editorial Board

When they attempt to drop these courses, these students encounter obstacles that prevent them from easily leaving the class. But we need to treat advanced academic classes differently.

The “advanced academic contracts” are another area of concern because we feel that more time and effort needs to be made more clear and fair for students who are experiencing this kind of experience. Many members of the editorial board in OnRamps are unaware of signing these contracts.

One solution we suggest administrators consider is putting a cap on OnRamps courses. This may not be plausible but capping the class at 25 students allows for better support in classes. When in a class of 30 plus it can be intimidating to ask or answer questions. It makes you feel like the only one who isn’t getting it. A solution is creating a way for prospective students to hear all sides of a class. Yes, we want to show the best of these courses and set an example but in all reality, not many kids are the type to have stellar time management skills.

Currently, OnRamps courses don’t have space for students to trip and fall. And when it happens and a student wants out, it can have a negative effect on students and on OnRamps classes as a whole. However, these are fixable problems that can benefit students with some tweaks and adjustments to these valuable courses.