The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Selecting Courses: The View from Senior Year

As a campus, we’re now in the midst of March Madness. This month means a colossal college basketball tournament, but at Los Altos High, many students see March as a “crazy” month for an entirely different reason: class registration.

Signing up for classes can be a process that causes more stress than the actual completion of courses. As a senior who has overloaded, overstressed, and driven myself into the ground as a result of my scheduling choices, I can offer a few tips for those choosing classes. Before you plunge yourself into academic hell, here are a few things to consider.

First, beware of the “dark side” of high school stress. We’ve all seen it, and many of us have been there: students who overload themselves are easily identifiable on campus. Deep eye bags, coffee cravings and general irritability are all signs.

“We want to push students and we want students to be challenged, but it’s a fine line between being challenged and going to the dark side,” counselor Dafna Adler said. “Some students will think, ‘If I just take one more AP class, then I’ll get into Stanford.’ But college acceptances just don’t work that way, and it’s not worth it to go through high school like that.”

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Challenge is great, and a few late nights make for good learning experiences. But speaking from experience, most of the time taking on that “one extra class” to boost your GPA isn’t worth the zombie-like state that accompanies it. So when you enter the counselor’s office to sign up for classes, take some challenge, but leave room to experience high school as well. Life will be more pleasant, and you’ll be a better student and person.

“The bottom line is that we want everybody to be challenged, and we want you guys to try hard things and push yourselves and take on that extra challenge in an area that you enjoy,” Adler said. “If you’re a little afraid of that AP English course or that AP Physics course, but it’s something that you enjoy, try it.”

Second, do what you love. It’s useless to sit through classes that you dislike; taking classes that bore you in order to gain AP credits end up being a bad experience for the student and teacher, and often ends in a midsemester drop.

“It’s tough on [students], not me,” math teacher Carol Evans said, of student drops.

Evan’s Algebra II honors class is one of the most difficult courses on campus. Evans said that often, students who love the material and work hard are able to find success in her Algebra II Honors class, even though they originally struggled. Conversely, many students can’t or won’t put in the work to succeed in Algebra II Honors often end up dropping.

Last, leave time in your schedule to do something purely for fun. Don’t go all out all the time; colleges don’t care about your fifteenth AP test, they care that you are an interesting person. The best way to show them that is to do something fun and pursue what you love, not drive yourself into the ground.
Open enrollment is a blessing and a curse. It opens up huge opportunities for students to challenge themselves, but at the same time, it gives students the perfect excuse to overload themselves, and the resulting dropped classes can cause a huge headache for the counseling department.

At the end of the day, signing up for classes is a judgement call, and with great power comes great responsibility. Just try to remember this: entering the dark side of high school stress simply isn’t worth it.

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