Tips on Course Selection

By Seth Morrison

You may think course selection is months away, but it’s actually that time of the year again; it has snuck up on us again. It’s important for every student to put a fair amount of thought into which classes, whether it be APs or electives, they will take next year. The question is: how? With so many things to take into account and weigh against each other, what is the best way to decide?

There are a few things to consider when picking new courses. The first is desire. “Where there is a will, there’s a way,” and students actually liking the classes they’re in provides them with the will to go the extra mile. It’s obviously easier for students to devote their attention toward classes that they like.

Another is how well a certain course will look on the college transcript. This can be very important because depending on which college a student wants to go to, a good high school record is necessary to get accepted. For some students, the transcript is an afterthought as the transcript merely reflects how well they do academically. Some, on the other hand, make their transcript their number one priority throughout high school because that’s what will get them into college. For example, one way of doing this is through AP courses because they are known for being more rigorous than the “regular” classes.

It seems like satisfying one of these conditions comes at the direct expense of the other. If someone were to pick very tough courses so that he has a good college transcript, he may be left with little to no breathing room between the various demands of each course. On the other hand, if he were to see to it that he get some breathing room, it may not look as good on his transcript. So what should you look for in the courses you pick?

The best answer is to pick what you are interested in. Mr. McCarthy, a guidance counselor, commented on this, saying, “Where there is little interest, there is little energy. Interests and goals can work in harmony.” For example, if a student is interested in taking a very difficult course that they can succeed in, the college transcript will write itself. However, an AP class may not be as good a fit for one student as another. Ideally, the college transcript is the result of academic achievement rather than the primary focus of high school. As Mr. McCarthy put it, “To choose courses of little or no interest with a hyper-focus on a transcript is to miss out on so much of the self-discovery that high school offers.” Some may say that the transcript is what will get students farther in the long run, but it may severely limit what they can get out of high school. In summation, you can have a good transcript while taking courses that you enjoy. If you can do that, then you have nothing to worry about.