Avoiding the dreadful schedule

Tyler Clark, Staff Writer

As the 2014-15 school year draws closer to the end, the beginning of the 2015-16 school year draws closer, bringing with it the excitement of a brand-new schedule. Students choose their schedule based on numerous influences that include academic rigor, course recommendations, and counselor advice, along with many other methods of developing insight in to class scheduling.

A few students from the freshman class noted that the relative breadth of choice for the freshman class is limited. Freshman, Jonah Auslander put this predicament into perspective when he noted, “Yes, I would say that the choices I had this year were pretty slim, but I think that is only because of the acclimation process to the high school way of life, as well as all kids needing to fulfill state required courses like [Biology].”

This is not a surprising fact as the Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements are mostly filled with a mix of high level and low level course requirements, especially in the high achieving academic sphere in Upper St. Clair.

Sophomore Kapil Sharma, he stated that he feels pressured when choosing his courses for his upcoming junior year. “It’s not easy. When you’re surrounded by a group of the really intelligent people you can develop many ‘fake’ qualities that you may believe inhibits you to take like higher level courses, but in reality you should not let this confuse your ability to make the schedule that fits your own needs.”

Students are often influenced by peers to take higher difficulty courses, and this can end up being an extreme detriment to mental and emotional health. In Kapil’s case, he is also heavily involved in the Upper St. Clair rowing team, which he noted was a “giant black-hole of time consumption” and he may not have enough hours in the day, regardless of academic ability, to properly perform in higher difficulty courses.

From the administration’s stand-point, the opinion is concise and clear: for the most part, students who follow their teachers’ recommendations will properly be placed in courses that will challenge them academically but will not crush them under the weight of their own academic involvement.

Mr. Malarkey, a counselor at Upper St. Clair, provided his perspective: “I always ask my students what they want to take and leave out the discussion of what they feel they should take because often times what they feel they need to take to be successful or to live up to some application’s standard, is much too difficult for the student at hand.”

This tendency toward challenging course selections is seen throughout the High School, but especially in the junior year, as this will be the time when students are writing college applications, as well as taking standardized tests.

Students in Upper St. Clair have the opportunity to change their dreadful schedules during a week in the summer, if they feel they have been improperly placed or conflicts arise. With the high standard of academics, the only thing students at Upper St. Clair generally are not achieving is the eight hours of sleep recommended by doctors for teenagers.