Going for the Gold in Class Selection Schedule

Written by Lisa Bleich

I was watching the Olympic men’s moguls and I saw each contender balance speed, form, and difficulty. The skiers had to find that perfect balance of challenge and speed to win and avoid losing control.

For students planning their schedules, it is a similar goal: create a schedule that will challenge you, but not make you lose control.

Selecting Classes for the Coming Year

  1. Identify your goals for college. If you know that you would like to be competitive for a highly select college (those schools accepting fewer than 50% of their applicants), then your schedule should be the most challenging for you. If you do not care about attending a highly select college, then you have more leeway in selecting your classes.
  2. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone in areas of strength. For subjects that come easily for you, push yourself further. Just like the Olympic medal hopefuls, you get more points for rigor than for taking it easy, even if it is not perfect.
  3. Go for your interests. Once you have fulfilled all of your graduation requirements, take classes that interest you. If you have a passion for science and no interest in foreign languages, it may be okay to double up on science senior year in lieu of foreign language. The key is to substitute equally rigorous classes in your area of interest.
  4. Know your limitations. Some kids over shoot what they can handle and that can end up just as problematic. (Think missing the jump and crashing into the spectators!) Most college students take between four to five classes per semester. So four AP classes along with all your other classes and activities may be too much.
  5. Understand what it means to override a recommendation. Depending on your school, you may get into AP, IB, Honors, or Accelerated classes based on your previous teacher’s recommendation. Some schools require you to take a qualifying test. In the former situation, if your school allows you to override the recommendation, be sure you understand what that means if you get into a class that is too hard the following year. Can you drop down right away, or must you wait the full marking period to change?

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