Course Selection Tips

by Katie Coviello

It’s that time of year again: course selection sheets are out! It can be intimidating to choose what classes to take, as you’re deciding your schedule for the next year, but it should be fun, too! Every year, there are more and more options for different classes to take, so you can arrange your schedule according to what classes you want (or need) to take. This freedom also comes with responsibility, but don’t worry! Here are some tips to keep in mind when filling out course selection sheets, from someone who’s done it three times:

  1. Remember to follow any requirements. You have to take certain mandatory classes, like english and math, and there’s no getting out of them. While you may not like some of these classes, Matignon requires four years of them, so don’t go into course selection thinking you’ll be able to transfer out of them. In most cases, these classes are non-negotiable.
  2. Be aware that you don’t have to take some classes. With the fact that some classes are mandatory every year in mind, there are some classes that you can drop. When I was a sophomore, you could drop history and take another science class or a language class instead. While I’m not sure of what the requirements are this year, as it varies yearly, be aware that there is some flexibility in which of the main, non-elective classes you take and when.
  3. Be honest with yourself about Honors and Advanced Placement classes. Being in a higher-level class looks good on a transcript, but you should ask yourself a few questions first. How much effort are you willing to put in to get a good grade? Are you going to be able to handle all the work that comes with a higher-level class? Often, students go into these classes not realizing the amount of work that they will have to put in. This shouldn’t discourage you, however. Many students thrive in an honors or AP class once they adjust to the increased amount of homework, studying, and effort they have to put in. You should never doubt yourself when it comes to these classes if you know you can do the work or want to challenge yourself in a particular subject. Don’t settle for an “easy-A” class if you know you’re capable of excelling in honors or AP.
  4. In the same vein, don’t take too many honors or AP classes. If you are busy outside of school with sports, extracurriculars, work, etc. or if you are already taking multiple AP classes, be sure to think about how another rigorous class will affect your schedule, your ability to do well in class, and your mental health. Taking many higher-level classes isn’t worth it if you don’t have any time to do your homework or take a break from schoolwork every once in a while.
  5. Take classes that excite you! This mostly applies to juniors choosing their classes for senior year, because there are many more options during your last year of high school that weren’t previously available, like Psychology, Law, higher levels of Art, Graphic Design, Internship, etc. If you’re interested in a class you’ve never taken before, and you have an empty mod in your schedule, try it! You never know what will happen; you may discover your new favorite class/subject.
  6. This is another tip that’s mainly for next year’s juniors and seniors, but it can apply to anyone. If you already know what you want to study in college, or if you know the general field you’re interested in (ex: math, chemistry, history, etc.) try to choose classes that will help you in the future. For example, if you want to be a marine biologist in the future, taking AP Biology and Anatomy may help you more, or be more interesting, than doubling up in a language. Be aware that some classes will help you more in your future careers (if you already have a good idea of what they are) than others.
  7. With that being said, it’s always good to branch out and see what interests you. I may be the least qualified person to be giving you the advice in #6–I took AP Bio last year because I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist, and I dropped a science class this year and am going to college for Art History. Over time, especially in high school, you find out what subjects interest you, and it may be a completely different field than the one you thought you wanted to study or work in in the future. Be flexible in your approach to high school classes, and keep in mind that your schedule now may not reflect your future goals–and that’s fine! The pressure to know what college major or future career you want is intense, but you definitely don’t have to know exactly what either one will be yet.
  8. Make the most of whatever schedule you end up with. If you find that you have a schedule full of seemingly boring or difficult classes, go into them with an open mind. They may surprise you–that seemingly strict teacher may end up being one of your favorites, or that hard class you were dreading may turn out to be interesting if you put some extra time and effort into studying. Your schedule may not seem ideal right now, but that’s okay, because you never know what will happen next year when you’re actually taking those classes.
  9. Remember the language requirement! This year’s seniors only had to take three years of a language, and four was recommended but not required. It may be different for each grade, but remember–a class you think you’ll dislike may end up surprising you. Many students dread the language requirement, but it can be interesting and even fun once you take the class. Knowing another language gives you many opportunities in the future, and a language class can be a fun way to learn a new helpful skill. Many students who learn the value of another language choose to take a fourth year of whichever language they’re learning, whether it’s Spanish or French. Also, colleges look for whether a student only took the required few years of a language or if they exceeded the requirement and took a third or fourth year, so keep that in mind no matter what you’re planning on studying in college, but especially if you’re majoring in a language-based subject like English or another foreign language.
  10. Don’t worry! Course selection can be scary, but there are so many people and resources available to help you. You can stop by the guidance offices on the top floor, or you can ask your parents and teachers what courses they think you should take, or which ones would most benefit you. Another underrated resource is the students at Matignon! Be sure to reach out to other upperclassmen if you’re nervous about taking a course they’ve already taken, if you’re not sure if you should double up in math or a language or not, etc. The input of students who already took the classes you’re considering can be so valuable when filling out course selection sheets.

 

I hope these tips benefit you in some way during the course selection process! Choosing which classes to take next year is a big responsibility, but you can take advantage of so many new opportunities. Remember these tips, keep in mind which classes you need or want to take, and don’t forget to ask for help when needed, and you’ll be fine!

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