We may not be through the 2nd marking period yet, but we’re almost ready for students to begin selecting courses for next year. It can be a bit unnerving having to make decisions like this so early in the year, but students choosing their classes is the first step in the scheduling process that ultimately ends with a master schedule for the school with staff assigned to teach specific courses and students assigned to periods that best fit their schedules. The course selection sheets will be distributed to 9th-11th grade students soon, but I want to start planting some seeds now of things you should be considering:
“Have to Take” vs. Want to Take”
There are a variety of courses that are graduation requirements and students don’t have any choice about in their schedule. (Click on image to enlarge). The 10th grade year doesn’t offer students much flexibility with elective courses; however, as students become juniors and seniors, there are many more opportunities to select courses that interest them. Students should take advantage of this freedom and seize the opportunity to explore a range of subjects or topics. This is often a great way for students to discover a potential career interest.
Planning for the Future
Some students come to high school having no idea what they want to do with their lives; others have it all mapped out (or so they think or perhaps their parents have it all mapped out for them). As I mentioned above, students should use their high school years to develop a sense of what interests them as well as what their strengths are. A college major or career choice doesn’t have to be set in stone, but students should have a general idea about what they want to do when they leave high school and how the courses they take now can prepare them for that future. If you haven’t done so already, log in to the Naviance Family Connection. This website has so many tools to help you and your child plan for life beyond Howard. Check with your child’s counselor if you have any questions about the Naviance program.
Taking on New Challenges
Students will be receiving their PSAT results online this week and one of the features Collegeboard includes on the report is an indication of whether a student’s scores are indicative of potential success in an Advanced Placement course (or as the Collegeboard calls it, AP Potential). If your child is identified as having potential for one or more AP courses, you should have a conversation with his/her teachers and counselor to determine which AP courses may be a good fit. At Howard, we believe that every student who plans to go to college would benefit from trying out at least one AP course to get a better idea of the rigor they will face in college. Be strategic about which AP course, if any, plays to your child’s strengths and interests.
Although AP classes are great, you have to be able to make what I call the Goldilocks’ Decision—what is too demanding, what is too easy, and what is just right? The answer is different depending on the student. Be sure to look at the big picture as you select courses—what activities is your child involved in? Does he/she have a job? What impact will course load have on GPA? If your child signs up for 3 or 4 AP classes, be sure to balance that with some courses that don’t require as much homework like Sports for Life, Art, Music Technology, or Food & Nutrition. “Homework Lite” courses are especially important for seniors since applying to college can almost seem like a class itself. Trying to maintain a balanced schedule helps ensure that your child doesn’t get overwhelmed and stress in the classroom starts to affect other aspects of his/her life.
This a lot of information to take in and I’m sure you have lots of questions about certain courses, graduation requirements, etc. If so, put this date on your calendar now—Tuesday January 12, 2016. We will be holding a scheduling information session that night where you will have an opportunity to 1) attend breakout sessions geared to your/your student’s grade level and 2) talk individually from representatives from each department and get your questions answered. The program begins at 6:00pm in the following locations (Grade = grade for 2016/17):
9th grade-Auditorium; 10th grade-Aux. Gym; 11th grade-Band room; 12th grade-media center)
Hope to see you there!