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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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Changes in course selection process leave room for improvement

Selecting courses for the next school year can be a very stressful process. Balancing the desire to take rigorous courses while maintaining a manageable schedule Is challenging for many. Is five APs too many? Should I have a free period? Can I have a free period? Will AP Psychology take up too much of my free time? Many students grapple with these questions come course selection time. Because these decisions will determine how a student’s life will look for ten months straight, many students have strong feelings about the process.

Although course selection is very important, the process has been met with criticism in the past. Last year, the process occurred over a two-week period. During this time, the counselors would come into each student’s English class for one day and instruct on how to fill out the course selection form. Students were given little notice of which day the counselors would come in and a list of possible courses students could choose from was not provided in advance. This caused many students to feel extremely stressed about selection since most had less than a class period to decide which courses they wanted. 

Last year, many students also felt they were not given enough information about the process. “The [counselors] rushed us a lot, they emphasized that it was a seemingly unimportant decision, and they didn’t give us enough information for us to make an educated decision,” said sophomore Daniel Kaye. The backlash aimed at the process eventually led to school counselors creating an online form for students to request changes in their course selections. 

This year, the selection process changed. Students were given a physical form and they had two weeks to complete it. They are also supposed to input their selected classes on a specific page in Aspen. It seems like these changes were made to streamline the process, and it gives students ample time to decide what classes they want to take. 

However, some students still have reservations. “It’s pretty vague, they only give you a sheet, and you have to go on the website yourself and read through all the courses provided,” said sophomore Nathan Liebman. The sheet itself did not make it very clear that a list and description of all courses is provided on the Jackson-Reed website. All it says is, “Review the course list and course catalog to assist you in completing the form,” without giving guidance on how to find them. For students who have found the course catalog online, it does provide a great list of every class at Jackson-Reed and short descriptions for each of them. “It lays out pretty clearly what classes you can take, and the electives are good,” said freshman Oliver Gilbert. The new process makes some very strong changes to course selection, but there are still some aspects that could be improved upon. 

One thing most students can agree on is that Jackson-Reed provides an impressive array of course options. From Creative Writing to AP African American Studies, students have a wide range of strong electives to choose from. There are also numerous art and music options, and four different languages students can learn over multiple years. 

Although course selection only takes up a brief period of a student’s time at Jackson-Reed, many have mixed feelings on the process. While most agree the system has improved this year, some feel there are certain aspects of it that can still be improved upon, and the school should continue to make changes so the process is as coherent and easy for students as possible.

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Daniel Raviv, Junior Editor
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