Balancing classes: the good and the bad of course variety

Iliana Woloch ‘24, News Editor

With a specific number of credits required for graduation, students tend to have their hands full trying to make it through high school with grades adequate enough to earn them a spot at a college of their liking. However, on top of the workload that students are sent home with each night, they can also have extracurricular activities, friends and family with whom to spend time, and oftentimes jobs that fill up the majority of their schedule. This can leave students feeling overwhelmed and sleep deprived as they struggle to stay on top of everything. While there are many ways to help elevate this stress, one of the most problematic stressors are the classes themselves. 

According to the American Physiological Association (APA), in a survey conducted in 2013, “83 percent of the teens surveyed said school was a significant or somewhat significant source of stress.” Strategies to deal with stress vary from person to person, but a few practices that can help are: get more sleep (though this is probably the hardest one to do due to the  high school’s early start time), jotting one’s thoughts down on paper to help make sense of your emotions, and simply taking time to relax without any looming due dates or projects hanging over your head. 

While some students will opt to make their schedules as easy as possible, many find themselves confused among the many different courses our school has to offer. This is especially true for those who have not yet determined the direction they are heading in after high school. Some may take classes that seem interesting, only to find that the course is nothing like what they were expecting, and this is why reading the course description is so important.  

Additionally, the transition from studying all subjects (such as math, science, English, social studies, etc.) to focusing on a select few can be challenging. Sophomore Jessica Jubik said, “Lots of options [in terms of] classes is really helpful if you know what you want to do in college, but if not, it can become very stressful.” This is why the abundance of options can be beneficial, as they allow students to explore diverse subjects while they are still in high school and needn’t worry about added college debt. 

Assistant Professor of Education Policy and Psychology Jonathan Wai said, “Students need different kinds of stimulation, and they should seek opportunities they’re interested in because no one thing is going to be the winning formula for everyone.” A combination of required and elective classes is supported by this theory, ensuring that students get a variety of education while still having the opportunity to explore subjects that interest them. For students to reach this full potential and get the most out of their education, however, this means that they must take care to choose classes that include topics they are interested in and would like to explore further. 

Ultimately, to avoid unnecessary stress and strain when it comes to one’s class load, it is important to talk to teachers about the best course of action, as well as making sure not to pile on too many high–level, heavy—workload classes. The balance of classwork and social life will be different for every student, so basing one’s decision off one’s skills and preferences, rather than the choices of others, is essential. 

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