By Zoe D'Angelo
“What classes are you taking next year?” is a question you’ll hear if you’re in junior high or high school. These are big decisions every student makes toward the end of their academic year, because you’re picking the classes they need to take for the following year.
If this is your first time picking classes, class selection can be very overwhelming. Don’t worry; I’m here to help!
First things first, we have to pick the core classes, the classes that have the most credits. These classes are: Math, History, Science, English and a foreign language. After you have those, you get to pick the fun ones, electives! Most high schools have so any options for electives and there’s something for everyone!
When you’re picking which math course to take, the best resource to help you is you’re math teacher. For example, if you’re in Pre-Algebra, and you score a 90 or above in that class, you’re in exceling math courses now. That means you probably learn faster then the kids who scored an 89 or lower in Pre-Algebra. There’s nothing wrong with that, everyone learns at different speeds!
If you score a 90 or above, you’re required to take one year or Algebra 1 then move onto Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus and so forth. For those who did not reach a 90, you are required to take 2 years of Algebra 1 which are called Algebra 1A and Algebra 1B. After you’ve completed those courses, then you’re onto Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus and so forth. Every district is different with where they place their students, but when choosing which math course to take, pick one where you think you’ll be challenged, but will not fail. Once you find the perfect one, you’re off to a good start!
Next is History. History is difficult because you’re learning about past events you may never of heard of. However, things get around quickly and kids probably know most of what they’re getting taught. Usually in the elementary years, they learn about B.C. and Ancient times, which is harder for kids to grab onto. However, when you go to the next grade level, the events you learn in history become more recent and most kids will have more knowledge on these events. At the end of the day, were creating history right now that generations far from now will probably learn when they’re in school. History courses have the option of it being a regular class that’s academic and suits everyone or if you feel like its not your type of learning style, you can go higher into the Honors or Advanced classes which many students like. It’s taught quicker then the academic course and will require more homework and study time. Grades are weighted heavier then academic and kids tend to make new friends in honors classes, because they may not have classes with other students before.
Third is Science. Science is one of those subjects where if you’re a strong learner in math, most likely, you’re a strong learner is science. Math and Science have very similar curriculum and are interesting to learn about. Likewise, History and English offers a honors class if you feel like you’re not getting challenged in the academic course. For students that live in Pennsylvania, we are required to take a Keystone standardized test all on Biology. For us to prepare, we are required to take a biology class the first year of high school so we will preform our best on the Keystone. However, you are welcome to take chemistry as well as biology, if that’s what you prefer, but everyone is different!
Fourth is English. To pick the best English course for you, you really have to think, “Will I have the time for this? Or Do I really want the majority of my homework be reading and writing for English?” If you answered yes to both questions, go for that Honors class! It will look great on your transcript and it will show you’re working hard! However, if you had answered no to those questions, academic is for you! Don’t’ sweat it if you end up taking academic and you wanted to take honors. Sometimes, if you excel significantly in the academic class and your teacher notices, they have the ability to move you up into the honors class! All you need to do is keep your grades up, but past the “passing” mark. You need to keep your grades very close to or an A for as long as you can. The more you succeed, your teacher will notice. However if they don’t, take this situation into your own hands. Go up to your teacher and explain to them that your grades have been awesome since the beginning of the school year and you really feel like you would do excellent in the honors class.
Lastly, is the foreign language. Some districts offer different languages then others, but the most common are Spanish and French. They usually start them off in the middle school, and offer more at the high schools. Most parents and teachers encourage their students to take Latin in their scholastic career. There are some questions on the Keystone that have the Latin Language incorporated into the test. Most districts require you to have 3 years of a foreign language to graduate, so once you’ve completed level 3 of a language, you are not required to take it anymore, but highly encouraged. Also, when you’ve completed 2 years of the foreign language and ready to pick what class you want for level 3, you can now select an honors class if you feel really good with the curriculum and really love the language.
I know this may seem overwhelming if this is your first time, but once you understand how course selection works, and you’ve talked with everyone you can about what classes they suggest for you, it should be an easy breezy process! What people can you ask for help you may be wondering? Those include: older siblings/friends who have took classes you’re interested in, teachers, guidance counselors, parents or any other trusted adult. I hope everyone’s course selection goes smoothly and is prepared for the next school year!
Submitted by our members as well as teens across the world.