Classes, Choices and Chaos

Students begin to prepare their schedules for the upcoming year


Torin Steil

Counselors talk with students one-on-one to input their schedules for the next year.

Last week, the counselors met with students in their English or History classes to discuss classes for next year. This week, counselors will meet individually with every student during these classes to help determine each student’s schedule. Counselors will meet with juniors on Feb. 8 and 9, with sophomores on Feb. 10 and 11 and with freshmen on Feb. 17 and 18.

The biggest worry students have when setting up their classes for the upcoming years is choosing between on level, advanced, dual credit and AP classes. The key to picking one’s core classes isn’t what classes friends are taking or who teaches that class, but rather what will help one balance his or her schedule and accomplish goals.

If students are involved in multiple extracurriculars that take time from their afternoon, then taking all AP classes isn’t going to balance their school life well. Students should choose if they are more focused on academics or extracurriculars and not try to be the best in both. Advanced, dual, and AP classes all require more time for studying and more homework, so one should choose what best fits their schedule, in and out of school. 

Both dual credit and AP classes give students an opportunity to earn college credit, while still being a high school class. Dual credit classes are college-level classes that cost tuition each semester, but guarantee college credit–in most cases–when students pass. Unlike dual credit, AP classes are high school classes, but towards the end of the year each student who pays for the AP exam takes a test over what they learned that year. Colleges grant credit based on how well the student scores on the exam. Both of these types of classes offer great opportunities, especially when someone wants to get ahead in college. Additionally, advanced, dual and AP classes are weighted on a 5.0 GPA scale, while on level classes are weighted on a 4.0 scale. Since colleges often look at students’ GPAs when considering admission, these classes offer additional benefits towards higher level education. However, if a student isn’t planning on pursuing a college-heavy career, the extra work of advanced level classes may not be worth it, but it all depends on the student’s view.

For incoming freshmen and sophomores, most core classes are either on level or advanced–ADV. for short. Advanced classes don’t offer college credit opportunities, but rather prepare a student for dual credit or Advanced Placement classes. Upcoming juniors and seniors have many options of dual or AP classes, and also an option to take one or two “flex” periods. A flex period can be taken at the beginning or end of a day, and essentially shortens a student’s day by one or two periods. Juniors may only take one flex period, either first or eighth period. Seniors can take two, which can be two in the morning, two in the afternoon or one in both the morning and afternoon. If an upperclassman chooses to schedule these flex periods, that could allow more time for advanced level classes, extracurriculars or a part time job.

Some students can’t seem to find enough electives to fill up their schedule, while others have too many they want to take. Students who want to take a lot of elective classes should make sure the classes they end up choosing balance well with the rest of their schedule. Nevertheless, electives are good ways to figure out what one likes and dislikes. There are many “Intro to” courses that will dive into the general field of a career, without putting too much stress on the student, in case they decide that field doesn’t appeal to them. Some students may already know what career paths they want to take, and likely there are electives to jump start them in that direction. For students who don’t know what job they would like to pursue, picking an introductory class in something that interests them is a great idea for building their schedule. 

There are many things to consider when scheduling for upcoming years, and oftentimes it is a good idea to talk with one’s parents, counselor and teachers to help decide just what classes are best for them. Remember that once students submit their schedules this upcoming week, they cannot be changed until the start of next year, which provides a buffer if students’ change their mind, but courses cannot always be switched last minute.

All documents regarding scheduling can be found on the DHS website here under “Course and Academic Guides” and “Dual Credit Classes.”