For some kids, the last thing they want to do when they graduate high school is to go on to yet even more school. But for most Rockford Lutheran graduates, a two- or four-year university lies ahead three months following graduation. College can be a taxing time in a kid’s life; in what seems like a matter of minutes, they go from being spoon-fed high school students to nearly full-fledged adults. Pressing questions rise to the surface. What will I major in? What will I minor in? What do I want to do with this degree I’m pursuing? What classes should I take? For first generation college students, the process can be even more daunting. However, Rockford Lutheran has the unique ability to ease students into their future with renewed confidence. This is done in a variety of ways, including dual credit or AP courses and select courses offered senior year meant to give direction to otherwise directionless students. Not to mention class ethics that hold students to a higher moral, social, and spiritual standard than your average high school.

Dual credit courses are offered starting junior year. Included are psychology, statistics, government, and economics. Dual credit classes give students an opportunity to take care of some general education classes they would be faced with their first or even second year of college, saving their families money and themselves some time, time being the most valued asset a college student can possess. When a student takes a dual credit course, they are technically enrolled college students, since the courses are offered through Concordia University Nebraska and Concordia University Chicago. A fee is paid to cover the course, which is almost always hundreds of dollars cheaper than it would be had the student taken the class in college. The student then is taught by a qualified teacher at Rockford Lutheran, sitting in the same class, taking the same tests, and receiving the same material as the students not taking dual credit. The only difference comes when finals roll around; dual credit students take a slightly more rigorous final and their final grade goes onto their transcript as a college course. When all is said and done, dual credit saves students and their families money by providing them the opportunity to take college courses before they are even officially college students.

Senior year science classes differ in that the students can choose which one they take; chemistry II, anatomy and physiology, engineering II, and physics II are among the ones that are offered. This personalized approach to learning gives the student a chance to stop and think about what they want to do after high school. For instance, nursing students are more apt to take anatomy and physiology, while future engineers or astronauts might take physics II. The choice is completely theirs, and should career plans change halfway through the year, the students have the option of switching into a different science class. These classes are often praised for the preparation they give the students; nursing students often say that their first college anatomy class is mostly review after taking Mr. Freudenberg’s rigorous course at Lutheran, and chemistry majors pass their college classes with flying colors after taking chemistry II with Mr. Martin. No matter the class the student chooses to take their senior year at Lutheran, it will almost certainly have a long-term benefit on their future education. The preparation these classes provide lead students to getting better grades in college and stressing a whole lot less.

While college is a prospect more heavily focused on in the last two years of high school, the preparation for the real world that college sits in starts as early as sixth grade at Rockford Lutheran. This preparation, from an outsider’s perspective, looks like middle schoolers having respectful debates and learning classroom discipline. It looks like freshmen creating a bond with their new classmates and building relationship skills that will last a lifetime. It looks like growing spiritually in chapel each Friday, asking tough questions about religion and feeling free to explore their identities and roles in society. In other high schools, it is easy for kids to get drowned out by the noise of their hundreds of classmates. In a school as tight knit as Rockford Lutheran, kids are able to stand out and get noticed by teachers and staff. The confidence that is instilled in a high school student when their opinion is asked for, or the self-assurance that is created when they are prompted to think for themselves, these things are carried with them long after these students become members of the college community. These are just a few of the examples of the kinds of students Rockford Lutheran produces; thoughtful, innovative, bold students that go on to do amazing things. Without this preparation that Rockford Lutheran provides for the real world, students could sink. Instead, taking with them everything they learned at that small, Lutheran school off of Alpine Road, they sail.

By Dakota Kampmeier, Class of 2018