Taking the Leap: Are Half Days the Best Option for Juniors and Seniors?


Aubrey Klarman, Staff Writer

As junior students start preparing for their senior year, there are a few important decisions they need to make about their high school experience, one of the most important being whether they want to be a full-time student or a half day student. Some teachers encourage staying the full day while others think students could benefit from starting the college experience early. Which is the best option? 

Harford County Public Schools in Harford County, Maryland offers a program for students in their senior year where they can take either two classes a day instead of four or go to school every other day and take college classes for credit or work when they’re out of school. This program is a way for students to gain college credits early while also learning more advanced things they may not learn in a high school building. Students on the work program can learn important life skills while applying themselves to real world workplaces. A lot of students take advantage of this offering at their respective school. Here at Bel Air, 273 out of 352 seniors are on the program. While a lot of seniors take advantage of the half time days, clearly there are still a number of students that stay in the building full-time. These students fill their schedules with graduation requirements that they have yet to fulfill and fun electives.  

I sat down with school counselor, Mrs. Terry Knight, to hear her words of wisdom on the important decision and she expressed that she encourages “seniors and their parents [to] have a thoughtful conversation on exploring their ultimate goals.” Knight says to ask yourself:  “Am I looking at exploring classes because that may be a major I’m interested in, or do [you] want to take full time here so [you] can do what is best for yourself?” 

Or…is it just because everyone else is doing it? This brings forward the true question many teachers ask students– are you taking half days just to get out of school, or to do something that will truly benefit your future? 

Part-time Senior, Kaylee Alderson stated she decided to take half days for the freedom that comes with it. “I essentially decided to do it for freedom, to be able to plan a whole day and be able to work and make money and not have to sit here for hours,” she explained. However, Alderson agrees that she would only recommend half days if “you actually feel you are ready for the responsibility to do it. It’s a really big responsibility to either take college classes or work.” Part-time Senior Ellie Harris chimed in saying “it’s a lot more of a responsibility than you would think.” 

For some students, like Alderson and Harris, being part-time has cleared up their schedules, as they are able to take high school credits through the college. But some students take full advantage of the program as a getaway to get out of the building. I asked upcoming juniors, through an anonymous poll on my personal social media, what their plans were for next year. Believe it or not, 35 students responded. 25 students said they were planning to take half days, 4 said they were planning to take full days, and 6 said they were unsure.  

Mr. Robert Deleva, principal of Bel Air High School, added that he feels “it depends case by case,” on whether students should take half days or not. Speaking on his personal experience, Deleva noted “I had twins, one did full days, and one did half days; it worked perfectly for both their scenarios. One did half days, did their HCC classes, went to work and then came back for sports. The other one, she didn’t want to do that, she did full days, she was able to take more AP classes, take things like AP Spanish, and it worked really well for her. Things work differently for everybody’s specific situations.” 

A current student example of a student on the full day senior program is NHS President, Sakina Shah, who explained that being on the full day program has helped her “get the full high school experience!” Shah explains: “The classes are allowing me to prepare for college and expand my knowledge.” She also entailed that she took full days to take every-day French in the afternoon as it looks very good on college applications. “French would help my college transcript look better as well as taking a full day looks more presentable.” 

So now, juniors, it’s your turn. What should you do? Well, I encourage, as others did, to take full account of what your goals are as a student and for your future profession. Does it make more sense for you to leave school, or are there classes here at Bel Air that can truly benefit your future? Although the half day program here at BAHS is a wonderful program, a lot of students take advantage of it as a “get out of jail free” card. They leave the school at 10:35 and spend the rest of their day doing nothing to benefit their future. When taking into consideration their senior year, juniors need to make a plan. They need to figure out that if they are going to leave the building, what are they going to do with their free time. Are they going to take college classes or are they going to work? Just sitting around doing nothing, though it sounds lovely, will in the end only make things worse for you in the long run.  

In conclusion, half days are not the best option for all students and students should not just take a half day to get out of school. Half days should not be used to just get out of the building. A student should only take half a day if they are going to be doing something to benefit their future. We are lucky here at BAHS because we have a wide range of classes and a wonderful faculty of teachers. At some other schools in the county, they may not have as many class options, so as a senior, it may make more sense for the student to enroll at HCC. However, at BAHS, the class assortment is so large that it makes sense for students to consider taking some of our electives.  

Juniors- this is a personal decision. Consider all the factors that will impact your decision including current and future goals. You got this, class of 2024!  

If you have any questions regarding the decision to take full versus half days, reach out to your school counselor.