High school students who are planning to enroll in college or enter the workforce would appreciate more classes that would help them start the next chapter in their lives, a panel of students said Monday.

Several students from Ada High School — and one from Latta High — offered suggestions for ways to help them prepare for college or careers during the EngageOK on the Road education conference Monday morning at Ada High. The Oklahoma State Department of Education hosted the event, which offered teachers professional-development opportunities in several subject areas.

The conference included a panel discussion with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister and seven high school students. Hofmeister led the discussion, titled “What Students Wish Their Teachers Knew.”

At one point in the discussion, a member of the audience asked the students to talk about the kinds of classes they would like to see for college- or career-bound students.

Ada High senior Coleman Prince said he thought students would benefit from a personal-finance class that taught them how to balance a checkbook, do their taxes and understand how credit cards work.

“Anything would go a long way for a lot of high school students, because that’s one of the main complaints all of them have when they get out,” he said. “They’re like, “Yeah, I know mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but how do I file my taxes?’”

Latta High junior Maggi Dansby said students would appreciate a job-shadowing program that would help them explore possible careers.

“I kind of have an idea about what I want to do in college, but I don’t know exactly what I want to do, and I want to plan my classes accordingly, like geared toward that career,” she said. “And if I don’t know what to do because I don’t have that experience — I don’t have that little taste of what I want to do — I don’t think I can plan accordingly.”

Hofmeister said state education officials are already looking at implementing programs that would help students prepare for college or the workforce.

“We’re making headway on some of these steps, but we’re gratified to hear some of what you’re describing right now,” the superintendent said.

Sharing advice

Earlier in the discussion, Hofmeister asked the panelists to share one piece of advice they would give their teachers.

Ada High senior Lillie Speed urged teachers to remember that students have heavy workloads, especially if they play sports or participate in other extracurricular activities.

“Some teachers don’t realize exactly how hard it is for us, and they aren’t as organized in that class as they are in others when we’re trying to juggle more than one AP class or extracurriculars,” she said.

Ada High junior Bree Coyle said students who are involved in extracurricular activities like knowing in advance when their assignments are due.

“Basically, just having a timeline ready would really help us out with all of our AP classes and other classes,” Coyle said.

Another question came from a teacher in the audience, who wanted to know how much homework is helpful or appropriate for high school students.

Ada High senior Landen Underwood said he wished teachers would give students time during class to catch up on homework.

“Have time to work on it in class,” he said. “In case you have any questions that you come across, you can ask your teacher. That’s very helpful.”

Ada High senior Ryan McCortney said he agreed that teachers should set aside part of each class for homework.

“Homework is best if it’s an assignment that you do in class,” McCortney said.

Ada High junior Madison Brumley said she struggles with homework on topics that her class hasn’t covered yet.

“Because I had a job this year, and I know other people have other things going on, like sports and all that,” Brumley said. “So it’s kind of hard to find that time to do it when it’s not like that big a priority in your head, compared to the other classwork you have.”

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.