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How to Balance Your High School Schedule
It seems as if university is right around the corner, and the pressure never decreases: You have to take as many honors/AP courses as you can, you can't have study halls (it will lower your GPA), you should load up on core courses and skimp on electives, you must impress colleges! Believe it or not, these are all myths. You do not need to take all honors-level courses, you certainly should not skimp on electives or study halls! When it comes time to schedule for next year, it can be hard to balance these expectations with reality. This will guide you through the process of selecting courses to create a rounded yet realistic high school schedule.
Start early.Give yourself plenty of time to think over your future schedule and make changes as needed. Don't leave anything until the last minute.
Familiarize yourself and meet school crediting requirements.Different high schools have different systems: Some require four credit (one for each year) in core courses, others require only two or three credits in a certain subject.
- Determine how many credits you need for electives (such as band, art, or computer tech) as well. Most schools require you to take at least one course in fine or applied arts, and some make a music program mandatory.
- Look into the lunch, study hall, and gym system. Some schools require that you take a lunch, others encourage you to substitute lunch with another class. You may have a maximum limit of study halls you can take. You will probably have to take gym all four years, but various high schools offer summer gym or an after-school gym program. You may take gym twice a week, alternating with a health or wellness class, or you might take gym every day.
- Remember: these requirements are the bare minimum that you must meet. There are very few, if any, ways to get around this.
Consider your aspirations for future colleges and careers.This will help you focus the classes that you should load up on or take higher-level courses in. For example, if you want to go to Harvard, you should expect to take harder courses than if you want to go to a more modest university. The same goes for careers: If you want to be a mathematician, take a lot of honors math courses; if you wish to be a teacher, it would be desirable to take a child development course.
- Talk with others at that college or in that field, and ask what courses were most useful to them in high school.
- Talk to your guidance counselor about courses that are good preparation for a certain major. Some high schools offer a whole string of courses on engineering, architecture, or another focus area.
Find your strong and weak areas.Most of this is common sense: If you love algebra, and find it simple, that would be a strong point. If you despise reading, and struggle in English class, that would be a weak point.
- Consider taking a harder class in your strong areas: Because you are good at it, it will seem easier, and you will enjoy it.
- Slow down in the areas you struggle in. I don't suggest taking honors Spanish III if you had a C in Spanish II.
Consider your interests.These are classes that you can take as electives. If you are musical, take band, chorus, or orchestra! If you doodle a lot, take art! If computers fascinate you, take an HTML or Java programming course!
- These are your 'fun' periods. They should be more relaxed and have a lighter workload than regular core courses. Take these classes in subjects that you enjoy. The class will be a blast if you like the subject!
- Don't be afraid to learn something new. If it won't stress you out, consider learning a new skill, whether it be playing an instrument or computer programming.
Be realistic:Give yourself plenty of breaks. Take a lunch, and/or a study hall! Feel free to take these courses. You are not superhuman,you need breathing room.These offer you some time to de-stress and work through homework or assignments, they are valuable resources. Do not overlook these.
- Realize that you are not superhuman!
Realize that teachers will try to talk you into things.Your Spanish teacher will want you to continue Spanish, and your English teacher might tell you to take honors next year- but then you realize that you are already taking two other honors courses. You don't need to listen to them.
- Every teacher thinks that their subject is most important: You don't have to take your teacher's recommendation. If you are taking enough honors classes, you don't have to take that honors English as well.
Compile everything.Look at required courses, your strengths and weaknesses, your aspirations, and your breathing room. From this, you should be able to go through each subject and decide what class to take at what level. From this point, perfect and tweak it until you have a balanced schedule that you can definitely handle.
||This man explains that courses you take shouldn't be ones you hate, and should show that you enjoy learning.|
- Talk to your friends about what courses they are taking. By comparing yourself to the rest of your graduating class, you can get a feel for what 'average' is, and then place yourself where you want to be.
- Most schools have a compilation of courses available online. Look at yours online and 'plan ahead' to meet prerequisites for courses you want to take in the future.
- If you have any friends or family members who are experienced in a career field you are interested in, arrange to chat with them about what classes they enjoyed most.
- If you have a GIEP (Gifted Individualized Educational Plan) or IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) you should talk to your guidance counselor about special changes to your schedule. These programs can 'tweak' your schedule, making exceptions or allowances as need be.
- Schedule and have a discussion with your parents about scheduling. Believe it or not, they were young once and can give you valuable advice about surviving the high school workload! Make sure that you communicate about their expectations and yours.
- Be realistic! You will be taking these courses for a whole year. Give yourself plenty of breathing room.
- Depending on the size and location of your school, it may offer more or less courses than others. Some private Catholic schools have very limited courses.
- Courses conflict. If two classes you want to take are only offered second period, you need to choose between them.
- Courses offered depends on the amount of students that sign up. Due to budgeting, your school may not offer a course that you signed up for.
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