Lincoln Edsall | Staff Writer

As the Mason school district grows, harder work and more challenging class options are available to middle schoolers. This empowers students to expand their knowledge and creativity, but it may also cause them harm.

College Credit Plus is a program that enables students in high school, and now in middle school, to take college classes. This and similar programs that allow kids to take harder classes may add pressure to students at a young age and keep them from doing other things they enjoy.

Seventh grader Colin Van Neste said that lots of kids are putting school before being kids after seeing their parents’ accomplishments and degrees.

“What pressures (students to take harder classes) is their parents working at such big companies like P&G,” Van Neste said. “With their scientific and with their academic degrees, it’s really pressuring kids. Their parents are pressuring them to get better grades and take harder classes.”

High School freshmen Leon Chang partook in College Credit Plus as a middle schooler and agreed with Van Neste about feeling pressure from others.

“Of course I feel that pressure,” Chang said. “The herd mentality of Mason is a huge pressure. If you don’t take a certain path, it’s very easy to feel left out and behind.”

Chang also said that College Credit Plus can be worth it, but you must make sure it is class that is really worth taking in the long run.

“If you really want to take it, make sure it’s worth your time,” Chang said. “I took Chemistry because it is a prerequisite to AP Chemistry, a class I really want to take.”

Even if it is worth taking, the pressure is still there. Seventh grade language arts and social studies teacher Melissa Schubert said that at the middle school a lot of pressure is already on the students and adding college classes on top of that is unnecessary at this age.

“I’m not fond of (college credit plus),” Schubert said. “I feel that we’re already putting too much pressure on middle school kids, and I think a lot of kids aren’t ready for that pressure, aren’t ready for that level of academics. Their growing up too fast.”

Guidance counselor Lindsey Sweat said that is important for kids to have a balance between their school lives and their social lives.

“I think it’s important to have a balance because you should challenge yourself academically, I think that’s really important,” Sweat said. “But I think it’s also important for kids to develop themselves socially through extra curricular and spending time with family. I think it’s really important for kids to find a balance, but that can be really tough for them.”