It takes a lot of moving parts to make a school like Steinbrenner run. While every role has its value, guidance counselors provide a special kind of service that many students come to depend on. This is true all year, but especially when it comes time to pick new classes for the next school year, whether it be regular, honors, AP, or dual enrollment.
“It used to be that everybody wanted AP, but dual enrollment is really growing now,” said Jaclyn Cappello, a counselor in Steinbrenner’s guidance office. “I’m not sure if it’s students thinking it’s easier, or the appeal of taking courses off-campus. AP is definitely still larger, but dual enrollment is becoming more popular.”
Some students feel that focus can be skewed when it comes to what classes their counselors push them towards and dissuade them from.
“I believe that guidance counselors encourage students to take more AP than dual classes because the dual enrollment process is long,” said sophomore Drishti Moore, who plans on taking English 1101 and 1102 at HCC in her junior year.
Dual enrolling involves a lot more manipulating on the student’s part, as they have to come in contact with offices at HCC. This includes actions such as filing transcripts, submitting PERT and SAT scores, and registering for courses that will fit into their daily school schedules. However, when it comes AP, the process is easier to run through the school, or so students believe.
While frustration over which path to take may be evident among students, it’s also a common discussion for counselors. Erika Tschopp, one of Steinbrenner’s guidance counselors, explains that the difference between choosing to take AP or dual is more than just the kind of paperwork a student must fill out.
“There are other differences between the two. For students that do very well in courses, dual enrollment is a good option because if they do well in that dual enrollment course, their grade will transfer to their college transcript,” said Tschopp. “Ideally, we tell students, if you know you’re going to get an A or a B in that class, take the dual enrollment. An A and C in dual enrollment probably isn’t a good idea, as that won’t look great on your college GPA.”
Perhaps this is why students feel their AP classes are given more attention by their guidance counselors in comparison to their dual enrollment counterparts. This reason certainly isn’t to reduce work for the counselors themselves. On the contrary, it would seem that if a greater push for AP over dual enrollment does exist, it is to benefit the student’s final grades.
Overall, Tschopp and Cappello both emphasize that the process and decision is personal and different for every student. It depends on their work ethic, how well they perform in AP exams, whether or not they can handle starting their college transcript while still in high school. The process doesn’t end up being too different for guidance counselors, mostly because on a high school GPA, dual enrollment and AP are weighted the same, and the contrast in paperwork isn’t as staggering as students may believe.
It’s no secret that when it comes to Hillsborough County’s financials, its pockets aren’t too deep. With a stronger public push for more school safety after the recent Parkland school shooting and marches around the nation, it looks like most spare change won’t be going into the hands of school employees, for better or worse.
With a school of approximately 2,400 students and only six counselors, that’s a lot of paperwork, and a lot of students for each Steinbrenner counselor to manage and place. Some students speculate that guidance counselors steer their students away from dual and toward AP because it’s less paperwork for them, but both Tschopp and Cappello say otherwise.
“When it comes down to a college that will take either AP or dual, I ask the question of what the child is more comfortable with,” said Cappello. “It’s really whatever makes the student most comfortable. Generally speaking, I don’t push students to take either, if they’re not ready for it, because they are rigorous courses. They have to really feel like they’re ready.”
It’s difficult to say whether this story will have a happy ending in the coming years, mostly because Hillsborough County is expected to gain more students next year, rather than lose. Which only means more Steinbrenner students in need of a guidance counselor. Luckily, the counselors that the school does have seem to be dedicated to preparing each student for their individual futures as much as possible.
“My ultimate goal is to help students,” said Cappello. “To always be here for my students and help them to the best of my ability.”
Jordyn Dees // Co-Opinion Editor and Business Manager