Cautious Course Selection

Katy Ly, Staff Writer

All underclassmen met up with counselors to choose their classes for next year during the week of February 8. For some, course selection was rather straightforward. For others, it wasn’t so clear. But nevertheless, everyone eventually clicked the submit button on next year’s schedule.

As a junior, I was one of the many sitting in front of the computer screen. As I clicked away at the several course options, I remember thinking to myself, “Huh. This isn’t what I originally planned.”

As freshmen, we like to have a general idea of what classes we will take our sophomore, junior, and senior years. And of course, we tend to shape that path based on of what we think will “look good” for colleges: Lots of APs, a demanding course, et cetera.

Taking on a challenge doesn’t hurt. Taking on more than you can chew for the sake of a rigorous image…that can take a big toll.

Late sophomore year, I had already picked out which classes I wanted to take during junior year. But after conversing with several other sophomores, I worried that my schedule wouldn’t be challenging enough. Everyone seemed to be taking 2 or 3 APs, and that concerned me. So I added another AP. But when junior year came around, I found I had to invest a lot of time not only into my APs, but into some regular classes as well.

I ended up dropping Honors French, but it was too late.  I was stressed, sleep deprived and overwhelmed. In the end, I grudgingly had to drop another one of my classes to preserve my GPA.

I felt like a failure.

Eventually however, I realized that the lighter schedule actually allowed me to invest myself more in the classes I still attended.  I was learning more, I was sleeping more, and I was emotionally much happier.

I’m not saying you should take the easy way out. Like I said before, challenging yourself is good! You learn how to manage things, how to organize and plan ahead, and how to coordinate with classmates.

Students should however, recognize their limits. Just because a friend of yours is taking 3 AP classes, an Honors class, and participating in a sport doesn’t necessarily mean you can do the same.

Rather than slaving away to impress college admissions, or killing yourself to keep up with an academically gifted group of peers, you need to follow a path dictated by real interest at a pace appropriate to your learning profile.

It’s fine to explore new courses, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you discover that some subjects just aren’t your cup of tea.  Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.  Don’t let your weaknesses define you.  Know your strengths and use them to build healthy self esteem.

Don’t pick up Honors Geometry to show “rigor” if it’s not related to what you want to do later in life. Instead, take class in which you can feel comfortable, productive, and let those feelings propel you to a positive view of yourself. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to fit someone else definition of success.

And above all else, don’t feel guilty for wanting to take a break once in a while.  Rest and recovery is essential to mental growth just as it is to physical growth.  Sometimes, the most important class in your schedule is the one that provides a break from the academic grind.