Updated: Jul 31, 2019
A main fear that students have when going from middle school to high school is the vast array of courses that they have to choose from. From culinary, boxing, to ballet, students often feel stressed at the idea of creating a schedule that fits their needs and interests.
This student was me. Today's post is to offer some advice as to what to do to help avoid creating a disastrous, untamable class schedule for all grade levels.
Consider what classes you must take.
Most students are required to take the basic core classes such as history, math, language, foreign language, and science. This already takes up 4-5 spots in your schedule depending on how your high school does scheduling, and what classes you have already completed. You cannot avoid these classes, so make sure you factor in room for them.
If you feel like you will not have time during the school year, research if your school allows for students to take some of these classes online. This is what I did for health and speech that I was required to take, and it only took 2 weeks instead of half a semester since I could go at my own pace. Keep in mind though that if you decide to go this route, it more than likely will cost extra money (mine cost roughly $300 per class). You also still have deadlines for assignments, but it is more self paced depending on the system your school uses for online summer school.
PRe-Ap verses ap classes.
Next, you must consider if you want to do Pre- Advanced Placement courses or Advanced Placement courses if you school offers them. AP courses gives the potential to gain college credit by completing college-level courses while still in high school, given you pass the tests at the end of the year. These courses are rigorous, and do require significant time outside of school. For my junior year, I had 5 AP classes, band, and job, but I still managed to balance it all. This could be different for you, and that's okay. It definitely included several late nights, but well worth it for the college credit. Colleges like to see students that push themselves harder than others, and taking a few AP classes is a good way to show that!
If you feel like you still want a challenge, but cannot fit the time for AP classes in your schedule, consider taking Pre-AP classes. This is step down from the AP classes, but they help prepare you for future AP classes you could take. Pre-AP classes still have time demands, but not as intense as AP classes, but do still require outside effort out of school. I took several Pre-AP classes in my high school career, and found that they were a better balance for me at times than a potential AP Classes could have been.
If neither of these suit you, it is perfectly fine to take regular on-level courses. You will still be getting the required information you need to be successful in the future, and it is a lesser time commitment.
I participated in my school's marching and concert band all four years of high school, and it was one of the best experiences. Although, I will admit there were several late nights that made me question why I chose to keep band in my schedule. However, in the end I made it work.
Consider if you will be in choir, band, drill team, orchestra, sports, or any other extracurricular activities. Ask the directors of each potential activity an estimate of the time commitments of each activity. I found that the best people to ask though are the students themselves. Ask some of your friends who are involved with those extracurriculars how much time a week they have to spend on it, and if it is easy to balance homework and life at home. Many large programs at high school require tedious time requirements, but are well worth it for college (and for making friends and connections) if you can find time for them.
it is okay to make changes once school starts.
It is perfectly okay to make revisions once school starts if your school allows it! You may realize that you do not have time to commit to 8 AP classes or a sport. Talk with your counselor about making a change that will better suit you in the future. Make you you prioritize your mental health first, but also consider if you will fail other classes because you are spending too much time on just one thing. No one can critic you for making changes that will make you better off in the future.
I hope this guide gives you an idea of what to consider when making a schedule for the school year. High school can be tricky when it comes to making time for all the things you want to do. Over time, you will come to terms with the concept of that you cannot do everything you maybe want to, and that you need to choose some of the more important classes, extracurriculars, and class intensity types that mean more to you.