Course Selection: What to Do

With course selection in full swing, it’s time for us high schoolers to decide what we want to take next year. Whether you’re currently a junior, sophomore, freshman, or even eighth grader coming into high school, it can seem like a lot of big choices you have to be making all at once. To minimize the stress associated with this part of the year, here’s how you can gauge what you think you want to take/will be best for you to take.


AP Courses

Though I’ve only been introduced to them this year considering I’m a junior, I’ve found the AP courses I’ve taken so far to be worth the effort. Obviously I have not taken AP exams yet, but those are not the most important aspects of AP classes. While it would obviously be nice to get qualifying scores on the exams and thus college credit, I find AP classes rewarding solely because you learn so much from them. However, there’s a contention to this: you won’t find yourself being able to learn anything if you take too many. Therefore, if you get recommended for AP classes and cannot decide whether you want to take them or not, here’s my advice: If you’re going to be a junior and considering them, try to only take one or two in subjects that you like. AP classes are formulaic and you’ll need some time to adjust to their setup. If you’re going to be a senior and considering them, take three at the most in subjects you like. You still want to enjoy your senior year, right? To reiterate, make sure you’re taking APs in classes that you actually like. There is nothing wrong with not taking an AP class because you simply don’t enjoy the subject: don’t exert yourself more than necessary.

Overall Tip: If you like a class, at least try out the AP for it if you’re recommended. They are rewarding and nowhere near as bad as people make them seem, and you can always drop down if you need to in the first term. If you don’t like a subject, don’t take the AP for it even if recommended to – though not overly stressful, you’ll devote effort that you could be focusing somewhere else.

Honors Courses

Honors classes have been available to us since the seventh grade, so we should be able to differentiate between them and college-level courses by now. The obvious facts are that you generally learn the same material in them, but possibly a little more in the honors course since you go through the information faster. Honors courses have more outside-of-class work than college courses – I think the difference in workload between those two may even be larger than the difference in workload between Honors and AP, though still manageable for any high schooler. I think everyone who enjoys learning is capable of taking and succeeding in honors courses if they are willing to put in the time and effort, and they’ll be very proud of themselves in the end for it.

Overall Tip: If you’re recommended for an honors level course – either to stay in one or move up to one – your teacher obviously believes you are capable and you have obviously been successful in that class thus far. If recommended, try out the honors course: you’ll find it’s easier than you expected.

College Level Courses

Despite the belief it seems a lot of students have, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a college-level course. The overall point of high school is to prepare you for college, so taking a college level course means you’re right on track. Plus, these are less stressful than the other two levels of courses and thus you’ll hopefully be able to stay successful in them without added pressure. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with dropping down from one of the other two levels to college if they just seem too demanding; again, college level courses are the standard courses assigned to curriculum for each age-level and mean that you’re still moving forward at the pace you should be in whatever grade you’re in.

Overall Tip: Take college-level courses if you want to avoid stress and pressure as much as possible – you’ll still have homework, just not as much as the other two levels. If considering dropping down to college from a higher level, realize that is completely okay and you’ll still be obtaining an education that prepares you for life after high school.