By Rayyan Ahmad
December is a great time for many occasions: school letting out for winter break, the holiday season of delicious food and amazing gifts, and the shopping craze that ends the year. But this month also sees the beginning of a new time, a time for planning the future: course selection for the next school year in all Howard County high schools. In the middle of the second quarter for this year, course selection was thrown in, so the faculty can determine the amount of sections for students in high school per course.
Many students all over the county wonder why schools do this as it comes at a crucial time in many students lives between Midterms and the end of the first semester of the school year. Many high schoolers believe that this is an inappropriate time to pick the schedules for the next year as it comes when students, especially those with the heavy AP workload, are at their busiest. “I had so much homework piling up in the middle of the second quarter with my AP Physics & AP Calculus Midterms and English & World History classwork to complete,” says Glenelg High School Junior, Pierce Pusheck. As many other students agree, submitting course selections before winter break is not an ideal time for scheduling. Even with the early scheduling, many students still change classes and switch courses anyways— sometimes making the early selection pointless.
Because the course selection takes place in such a short amount of time—roughly 2-3 weeks— many students also feel as though they do not have enough time to make these very important decisions on how to spend the next year. “Since next year is my last year, scheduling doesn’t really affect me as much,” says Ethan Bombhart, a Junior at Glenelg High School, “but to upcoming Juniors and Sophomores, this decision is very critical. More time is needed to decide what classes to take as it determines the future in education for many students, and to give them ample time to mull over what courses to apply for, or what course level to take.” With current Sophomores this is especially difficult as Junior year is extremely rigorous, and classes need to be picked carefully with the future kept in mind.
Another harmful effect this early scheduling causes is the waste of class time that can be used for other things. This comes during all science classes when students all called down to Student Services to discuss their chosen courses and other graduation requirements with their respective counselors. To those students that take rigorous and difficult science classes, this time away is distracting and takes away from learning. “During AP Mechanics 4th period, our teacher sent us down to Guidance to confirm our schedules,” says Huzaifa Naroo, “when most of our class went over, we saw a long line and the wait time was forever. After I finally finished discussing it with my counselor, I only had 25-30 minutes to collect lab data and complete a Forces & Work CER.” With the time crunch and many other aspects of early scheduling negatively impacting students all across Howard County, changes need to be made for the improvement of many students' education selection.
Since the early course selection upsets many students, the solution seems to be to change the scheduling time to later in the year. “I wish that scheduling would be made toward the end of the year, so we can have until June or spring break to decide what classes we want to take in the future,” says Christopher Heller, GHS Junior. With scheduling towards the end of the year, students will be able to spend more time thinking out their plans for the next school year while also studying and focusing on the current one.
While many students feel as though there is no point to having scheduling very early in the year, this time is often very advantageous to teachers and those who work for the county as this is when Howard County usually budgets for the next school year. County faculty also checks if they need to hire more teachers or redirect some based on the classes that students select and the amount of sections per class. “It all boils down to the classes that students select. After determining the sections per course, we the faculty need to send all the information to the Board of Education for Howard County. There the team decides the amount of teachers they need for the entire county. This process takes several months and would not be finished before students entered school begin in September,” says Ms. Mindy Hirsch, GHS Counselor. While many believe that the early selection is quite helpful for the county as a whole, overall it seems detrimental for many students.