Chemistry requirements for high school graduation vary across different states. Some schools make the course one of several options for science classes, while others mandate that students take it, along with physics and biology. Along with meeting basic requirements, taking high school chemistry is important to college preparation, improving your analytical skills and preparing for life in the modern world.
No Reduction in Requirements
With the U.S. falling behind in scientific literacy and standardized test scores, many states now require more science courses for graduation, especially physics, chemistry and environmental sciences. Completed in April 2013, the Next Generation Science Standards emphasize chemistry concepts such as mathematics, variables in chemical reactions and the periodic table as important to a 21st century science education. The exact requirements for chemistry, however, still vary according to different states. In both Michigan and Georgia, for example, chemistry represents one of four mandatory science courses.
New college students often need chemistry as preparation for university-level science requirements. Colleges generally expect applicants to have a minimum of three science classes, the College Board reports, but state and private schools appear to hold different expectations. In California, for example, private colleges require three to four years of science, including chemistry, while state schools such as CSU and UC expect only one biological and one physical science credit. Although some schools, such as Stanford University, offer beginner's classes in chemistry, high school chemistry classes can familiarize you with basic concepts before entering the more demanding college setting.
Knowledge of chemistry is also necessary because it impacts nearly every aspect of life. Knowing how different elements interact and combine is the basis of medicine, energy conservation and engineering, as well as everyday practices like cooking. Griffith University even reports that as science and technology quickly evolve, an increasing number of employers desire applicants with a basic science background. High school students who turn down the chance to take basic chemistry classes may be at a disadvantage not only in college, but in future careers.
Along with real-life applications, taking high school chemistry is an important path to critical and analytical skills that can be transferred to other classes and disciplines. Chemistry teaches students to interpret data, form conclusions and evaluate the validity of scientific research, states San Jose University professor Janet D. Stemwedel. Additionally, chemistry classes help you strengthen other abilities, such as problem solving, teamwork and time management, which can help you work more productively on challenging tasks.