My Thoughts on the Academic Track Hierarchy

Words by: Katrina Tan

my thoughts on the academic strand hierarchy

There are few things more frustrating than having a hierarchy built where it wasn’t needed in the first place. Many of those in senior high school (SHS) under the K-12 program can attest to thiswhether it be through the discussion of whose academic strand is more challenging, or the discussion of what type of student belongs where. This sort of social hierarchy is one that must be discussed, if not for the sake of the current generation, then for the next.

The stigma that many receive after choosing which academic strand to spend their final two years of high school in? Humanities and social studies (HUMSS) students may know it best.

There are many phrases tossed around when discussing strands, some more insulting than others such as “walang kuwenta,” “for those who aren’t good at math,” or “patapon.” However, despite their harshness, many of these sayings are still thrown around, more so directed to those whose strands are not particularly known for their specialization in mathematics or science.

Some examples of these rumors are that the General Academics Strand (GAS), is for those who do not know what they want to take up in college yet, or whose academic ability does not reach that of the other strands, and so they are ‘left’ or ‘tossed’ into GAS. Another example is that HUMSS students are not necessarily the most academically inclined students, and or are students who focus more on the arts than traditional academic subjects. These, however, could not be further from the truth.

The reality that not many seem to realize, is that many GAS students simply have too many interests, or simply see the strand as the most beneficial choice; seeing as they are exposed to specialized subjects from all other strands (STEM, ABM, and HUMSS). Those under the strand are not worked any less than those under the STEM, ABM, or HUMSS strands, but are instead worked in a multitude of ways that broaden their perspective on what college course or career they may wish to take in the future.


Likewise, those who have chosen HUMSS as their strand for senior high school should not be looked down upon or degraded by those of other strands. While it is true that excelling in mathematics and science is highly praised and rewarded in our society, those under the HUMSS strand are equally worked as those under the STEM strand, but in a different way. Instead of numbers on a board, the HUMSS students are made to think creatively by submitting carefully worded outputs such as news articles, and creative writing pieces. Such processes and activities allow the students to hone their skills as creative and critical thinkersa vital aspect of a person in the 21st century.

There are also more pressuring rumors directed towards the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) strand such as that all STEM students excel at math and science; all STEM students will become successful, or that simply put, all STEM students are smart. While these rumors may be true to a certain degree, they certainly imply a pressure towards the current and future STEM students that they must all be smart, and all excel in math and science; and that they must all become successful. Not only could these words disturb, or even hinder, the current STEM students from doing their best by shouldering this responsibility, it can also discourage future SHS students from picking the strand, in fear of the pressure they will receive.

Not all rumors are so hurtful, though. Some rumors—such as those commonly directed towards the Accounting, Business, and Management (ABM) strand—are more encouraging to those who have yet to pick their strand. Many of these rumors include the fact that the strand’s specialized subjects are relatively easy to grasp but are, at the same time, useful for those who want to get involved in business-related affairs.

As it is, stigmatizing is still a common occurrence. Despite efforts to put an end to it once and for all, some habits are hard to kill. Even so, it is hoped that this article has helped shed some light on the more common rumors surrounding the K-12 academic strands. 

Are you a K-12 student? Need some help surviving senior high? Check out these 8 Useful Tips For Surviving Senior High!