After spring break, it seems like the rest of the year just flies by. AP tests, prom, then bam – it’s already summer. And now’s the time to prepare for the new school year by making the decisions we all dread: scheduling. If they haven’t already, the counselors will be dropping by your English class soon to give you a heads up on when you’ll be requesting classes for next year and what’s required each year of high school. They want you to go into the computer lab prepared to choose the classes you want, so you’ll need to do a little bit of research and consideration beforehand.
There are three main things you need to focus on when picking classes. First of all, don’t kill yourself with an overwhelmingly difficult schedule. If you’re a rising junior, think very carefully before signing up for an all AP, all day schedule. Although it’s possible to take AP Language, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB and BC and the dual AP US Government/AP US History combo all in one year, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. The people I know who took many AP tests in one year were very unhappy when May came around. Think about all the other commitments you have (clubs, sports, a part-time job) before signing on for that much work. Also consider that if you spread your study time too thin for each of these classes, you’ll end up with lower grades and test scores in all five or six of them instead of excelling in two or three.
Second, do challenge yourself (just don’t go overboard). You should probably just go ahead and sign up for that harder math class like pre-calculus because it’ll end up helping you in the long run. Remember, every AP credit you earn is just one more class you don’t have to take (and pay for) in college. A $2,000 class is a whole lot more expensive than an $80 test fee. If you take nothing but classes you think you can breeze through with an A, you lose out on a lot of learning opportunities. You’ll also be really bored in a class where you already know the material. Don’t worry so much about killing your GPA with a difficult class, because chances are, if you’re truly putting in your best effort and work with your teachers, you can come out of even the hardest classes with at least a B.
Third, you need to check your graduation requirements. Don’t be the senior stuck in freshman gym because you never got around to taking it. Know what you need each year, and don’t procrastinate those vital credits like foreign language. Also, don’t waste your electives taking classes that aren’t in your career pathway. You only get a few electives throughout your high school experience, and if you’re trying to fulfill a medical career pathway, Floral Design I and II aren’t going to do much for you. Keeping up with requirements keeps you from panicking in a class you have to pass in order to graduate during your senior year. At least if you fail Spanish I your sophomore year, you’ll have time to retake it.
For all of you seniors out there, all this advice applies to you as well – maybe even more so since colleges offer so many classes. This summer or possibly this spring, you’ll most likely have an advising conference at your future university where you set your freshman schedule, and you need to go in ready. Colleges expect you to be an adult able to make important choices like class schedules that will define your future. Put in some time and thought now so that you can have a successful school year starting this fall and a successful future in general.