Specialized High Schools Should Be More Common

Kennedy Eller, Staff Writer

Specialized high schools are extremely common abroad. The United States, however, has
less of an interest in specialized schools. In Italy, it is common to send your kids to specialized
high schools. From science institutes to classical education the options vary as the students
choose their path when they finish their secondary study at 13. However, specialized high
schools are uncommon in the U.S., except in New York City. There are other ways to develop
what students are interested in through the separation of subjects in the generalized studies that
are in regular schools. After all, why pay so much money and go through the trouble if your kid
can just change their mind? The United States should focus on having more specialized high
schools that are accessible to help students to focus on what they want to do in the future.
Specialized high schools have a higher level of individuality when it comes to classes.
Certain schools will have special focuses that transfer to the student’s future job market. Italian
specialized high schools break down their schools into four schools. After students finish two
years of secondary school at the age of 13, they choose which specialized school they would like
to go to, or they continue with a generalized school. The options look like this:
Classics School: Students take courses in literature, philosophy, and history.
Science School: Students take courses in physics, chemistry, and natural sciences.
Fine Arts School: Students take courses in drawing, sculpting, and painting.
Technical Institute: Students take courses for agriculture and technical skills
The typical schedule is six days a week from Monday to Saturday with classes starting at 8:00
a.m. and going until 1:00 p.m. Students have an hour-long lunch during which most students go
home to eat with their families. The classes are tailored to work with what the students are
interested in and offer a variety of independence. The grading system also differs from the
American style, with one point being the difference in a letter grade. These students are prepared
for the real world and commonly do not attend a university.
Beyond the benefits, there will always be downfalls to these types of schools. One of
them is that students struggle to transfer to more generalized schools when they come from a
specialized high school due to the transfer of community and the feelings of isolation. This
impacts their mental health, their grades, and their ability to socialize. Another downfall is that
the students have less trust in their teachers and a weaker connection. This makes it harder for
students to work and communicate with their teachers due to the difference of focus time with
the students. Finally, it is expensive. The entrance test prep costs around $400 and the tuition
averages around $14,000 a year. If these schools become more common in the United States,
public school systems will suffer from an even greater decrease in funding. The effect on
students and their families will be astronomical.
Are specialized high schools really worth it? Truthfully there is no answer. Switching
entire school systems is a big change but if it improves the future of students, is there really a
question about it? Specialized high schools are a good idea if they are done right. Students
deserve the opportunities offered by these schools so it’s important to make them affordable and
accessible for any student who would want them.