The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

The student news site of Carroll Senior High School

Dragon Media

Class Selection Advice

With course selections opening up, many underclassmen and incoming freshmen might be overwhelmed with the vast variety of classes. From the challenging decision between AP World History or AP European History, to selecting electives, choosing one’s schedules poses lots of questions, so, as a junior who’s made both mistakes and good choices in curating her schedule, here’s some advice I have to any underclassmen who are worried about their courses.

Incoming Freshman Advice

My biggest piece of advice to freshmen is not to be afraid of taking challenging courses. I went into freshman year full of self-doubt about taking AP Biology and AP Human Geography, and ended up dropping both, even though the course load was light. I heard horror stories from various upperclassmen about the difficulties of both courses, and my fear of failure forced me to admit defeat before I actually tried. Looking back, I definitely feel as though I could have handled either course. Freshman year is about getting situated and figuring out what courses are right for you, so don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Moreover, taking APs as a freshman, besides boosting your GPA, will allow you to form a good work ethic and learn discipline and skills that will carry over into your future. APs are meant to be hard, but they’re far from impossible and, with the right amount of effort, anyone can succeed, so don’t let anyone intimidate you or keep you from trying them out for yourself.

On the other hand, you don’t want to stretch yourself out too thin. Building and maintaining a good GPA as an underclassman is crucial and (believe me) way easier than improving one as an upperclassman. It’s always good to combine advanced, on-level, and AP classes to curate a schedule that you can handle.

Lastly, required credits, like health, P.E., and fine arts, are easier to get out of the way earlier in high school. The last thing you’ll want to do senior year is shuttle back to the regular high school for a class while all of your friends are at the senior high. Also, taking required electives earlier allows you to go down specific pathways, particularly in fine arts. You don’t want to take Art 1 senior year and randomly find out you really like to paint because you won’t be able to take any further art classes. Some fun options for P.E. that are definitely worth taking advantage of include scuba/lifeguarding and P.E. Tennis.

 

Incoming Sophomore Advice

Sophomore year is the year I actually branched out into harder classes, and I’m glad I did. Most incoming sophomores can’t decide between AP World History and AP European History. Though I took AP Euro and loved it, a lot of my friends who took AP World can also vouch for it. Both classes are pretty similar in their AP exam structure, but AP Euro dives into more detail on fewer countries while AP World goes through a more general history. Though on-level world history is also a viable option, I’d recommend taking one of the APs. Not only is the course load not too bad, but both courses will also give you a solid foundation in history, which is necessary for future history classes and just to be generally well-educated. 

Be prepared if you’re planning on taking advanced chemistry. For me, on-level chemistry was hard enough, and all my friends in advanced/GT chemistry constantly complained about the workload. 

 

Incoming Junior Advice

Juniors are faced with the decision between on-level U.S. History, AP U.S. History, and AP American Studies. Though on-level is, again, a viable option, I would definitely recommend selecting the AP course. APUSH gives you necessary critical thinking skills, a good work ethic and a strong background in U.S. history that is necessary to just be well-rounded. I’m taking American Studies, which is a combined AP Language and APUSH class, but I think the choice between regular APUSH and AMSTUD is definitely personal. While APUSH and AMSTUD have around the same workload, AMSTUD has more nightly reading. APUSH classes focus more on the material while AMSTUD goes into more detail on methods of writing SAQs, DBQs, and LEQs. Moreover, the seminar-based nature of AMSTUD ensures full comprehension of both the APUSH and AP Lang materials, and the discussions make the class very social, so you’ll definitely meet a new, diverse group of people. APUSH also has numerous debates throughout the year to help learn varying viewpoints. With both classes, the amount of reading will undoubtedly build your reading comprehension, which is helpful to prepare for the SAT. Though the workload is hard, especially for those with prior extracurricular commitments, there are a lot of rewards to reap by taking APUSH or AMSTUD.

For junior year, I chose to take AP Environmental Science instead of physics. Though it’s seen as one of the easier APs, I actually found it pretty challenging as the test questions, which applied the knowledge we learned in class to the real world, were pretty difficult. I think taking physics, whether on-level or AP, would be beneficial as many colleges require it, but other viable options include anatomy and physiology or environmental science. 

 

Carroll has a lot to offer, and it’s good to take full advantage of the classes. Be mindful of the difficulty level of certain classes, but don’t be afraid to branch out and test yourself.

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About the Contributor
Katherine is a junior at Carroll Senior High School and a first year member of Dragon Media. She loves reading and writing and hopes to experiment with different types of journalism. Outside of school, she loves playing soccer, listening to music, watching Netflix, and FaceTiming her friends.