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Independent Credits

    On the first day that I came to Nova, I walked inside and was immediately sent down to Akil’s room to join his coor. Like other freshman, I was nervous because it was my first day of high school. It was clear to see who had previously been to Nova--they were very relaxed. When everybody got settled into the room, Akil began his welcome speech. It wasn’t long before he started to tell us about independent credits. It seemed like it was too good to be true: how could we get credit for a class that we don’t even have to go to?

    The happiness quickly turned into stress when I found out that I had to take Washington State History because I had just moved from Montana. I was given a list of competencies we had to meet in order to get the credit, which didn’t seem too bad at first; however, when I actually went to start doing the work, I realized how many stories and essays I would have to write. The thought of having to do all of this work while I could be enjoying my free time ultimately got the best of me. Because it was my freshman year, I expressed my concern to Akil and we decided that I could do it another time. To this day, I still have yet to take the class. I may save it for work to do over the summer when I get bored, or maybe my senior year when I won’t have six classes to take; either way, both sound terrible.

    Now that you got a little look at my mindset towards independent credit classes, I’ll go through a list of pros and cons (which may or may not apply to you, these are my personal opinion). Some pros would obviously be the fact that you can get credit while not physically attending a class. Independents can help you graduate early if you do enough. You also gain skills, in terms of initiating work by yourself. This is an important skill to have in your life because you’ll use it everywhere you go. You can really impress your teachers, boss, etc. by getting to work without being told to do it. If you’re like me and you like to stay up late, you get to sleep in (assuming you’d do the work later). Because of the flexibility offered with the credits, you can focus on a specific competency of what you’re learning to help further your understanding of the subject as a whole and still earn credit. Finally, you can get credit for things that you already do in your day-to-day life, like baking, running and writing.

    Debbie told me that you also get up to two years to finish a class worth .50 [editor note: as long as you meet with the facilitator of the contract regularly through that time], which could be both a pro and a con if you think about it. If you’re taking it as a sixth class and stretch it out for that long, you would begin to get behind in credits; but, if you’re taking it as a seventh class, you would be ahead in your credit upon completion. The only other con I could think of was the fact that they take up a lot of free time if you are doing it as a seventh (or, in my case, eighth) class. Even though it is the only one I listed, in my mind, it weighs out most of the pros. I’m not necessarily in a rush to get through high school, so I’m fine with just doing my six main classes and two committees here. If you wanted to take advantage of the independents and get out of high school as quickly as you can, I totally understand where you’re coming from.

    I was telling my friends in Butte, Montana about the independent credits at Nova, and to my surprise, other schools do offer independents, such as Butte High School, but it is a lot more limited. Only a couple of classes are offered and still require some classroom time. The fact that Nova allows their students to get independent credits while only meeting once per month is amazing, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to do some.