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Choosing Classes? Learn From My Mistakes

By Rachael Scarborough King

June 05, 2007

In early June of this year, as my sophomore year of high school was drawing to a close, I realized several things. First, I was halfway through with high school, and had less than two years to make myself presentable to colleges. Second, I was coming up on my junior year, the hardest and most important year of my high school career. And finally, that in terms of classes, I had not made the year very easy on myself. I was enrolled in two classes which I knew were going to be very difficult for me – AP U.S. History and Honors Chemistry – and the rest of my classes were not much better.

Now, I did not set out to make this year as hard as possible. Somewhere along the line, back at the end of freshman year, I made a choice that would determine my elective classes for the next three years: whether to take history or science in tenth grade. Being a freshman, this was the first time that I had ever picked my own classes to take, and my decisions were not as informed as they could have, and should have, been. I now know that, if I had understood what my decision meant, I would have chosen a different class schedule for sophomore year. I feel that many freshmen, in a wide variety of schools, are faced with the problem of having to choose classes before they fully understand what their choices mean.

As it turns out, I decided to take a history course and complete my arts requirement sophomore year. I wasn’t told that it was possible to take both science and history in tenth grade, and postpone the year of art/computer courses until senior year. When I was choosing these classes, I didn’t fully understand what I was doing, and I didn’t know that I should go to my counselor for advice. The Catch 22 of this issue is that these course choices will not be fully explained to you unless you ask your guidance counselor, but you won’t know to ask your guidance counselor until the courses are explained to you.

In public school systems across the country it is a sad truth that there are simply not enough guidance counselors to allow the time to distribute unsolicited information. At my school there are five counselors for approximately 1,100 students – and apparently this is a better ratio than in many other schools.

While most high schoolers are already past the stage where they fully understand how to choose their courses, I hope my experiences can be useful for upcoming freshmen and sophomores. Most schools have a period of five to ten days at the start of the school year in which classes can be dropped or changed. If you feel that you made the wrong choices at the end of last year, these can be remedied. And for all new freshmen: at the end of this school year make sure you understand your class choices, so that you don’t make decisions you might regret.

This article originally appeared on Making It Count.


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