A Love Letter to my First CR


Ruth Shikanov

Students exit CHS on the way to their UM CR

I was told I shouldn’t wait and I’m glad I didn’t, because Water and Society, EARTH 109 was undoubtedly the highlight of my fall semester of sophomore year.

The simple and straightforward Community Resource (CR) program is one of the pillars of CHS’s identity and allows students to create their own unique classes or participate in classes at one of the universities in the vicinity. Despite seeing an expected decline in participation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, numbers have leapt right back to pre-pandemic levels according to the CR office.

Students make a wide variety of subjects into courses, like chess, woodworking, field ecology and even internships at Washtenaw Dairy.

Last year, I was given conflicting suggestions for and against a CR. Some people said taking a class at the University of Michigan (UM) as a sophomore in high school would not be advisable and that the workload would be too much. Conversely, I’d been urged to take as many CRs in as many different things as possible and to expect the best and not fear the worst. The latter sentiment was echoed by many other peers who wished they could go back in time and take more advantage of CHS’s opportunities when they could.

Motivated by a fear of missing out and a need for variety, I perused the UM course guide with a friend. We were bound by the constraints of an inflexible schedule and just one awkward block available: fourth.

Having such a specific time constraint significantly narrowed our options, but led us down a path we didn’t expect. We eventually settled on a somewhat random pair of one-credit-hour, ecology-based minicourses.

Walking amidst hordes of college students through the diag to the first day of class, we giddily asked each other if everyone knew we were high schoolers, if we looked out of place. But of course we didn’t. We looked almost the same as our classmates did and belonged there too.

Taking a CR required advocating for myself, taking a risk and asking for help: all real-world abilities that need to be emphasized more in early education. My U of M classes felt like a break from regular school because I’d handpicked them and made such an effort to be there. The lecturers were invested experts who were incredibly passionate about their subjects and accommodated us with grace.

The 10 minute walk to and from class was also a highlight. Getting outside and moving is a concentration booster for me and absolutely impacted how much I enjoyed class. Aside from the fun of it, taking a college course as a high schooler both prepares you for college and looks great on applications.

I took the advice of my peers and I urge you to take mine. Learn about what you love, do something that excites you and get credit for it.