Each week, a member of the Lasso Editorial Board will comment on an issue that is relevant to the students at George Mason High School. We strive to present a student-oriented opinion about topics big and small that matter to all of Mustang Nation.
??Have you signed up for your classes yet??? has easily become the most asked question by teachers for the past two weeks at George Mason. To be honest, I was one of the students who waited until the final day to register for my classes, on Monday, March 2. The reason for that wasn??t because I was being lazy, but because like many other students, I was indecisive and unsure about which classes I wanted to sign up for next year.
In every one of my classes, the teachers have taken some time to discuss what the options are for classes next year. In science class alone, we had a 40-minute conversation about scheduling, which made sense to me once I saw that there are three pages of possible sciences classes to take junior year.
As a rising junior, and able to take IB classes next year, I find that I have a lot more options for classes to take than I??ve ever had before. Also, for those choosing to take IB classes, the choice they make going into junior year may also carry into senior year. This ends up putting a lot of pressure on students; they want to make the right decision so they know they??ll get the best out of the rest of high school.
So naturally, many questions like, ??What is the homework load like for so-and-so class???, ??What??s a normal day like in so-and-so class???, ??How much harder is so-and-so class than the class we are in now??? and more, arise in every class. In my experience, the teachers have done a good job of helping students try to figure out which classes to take. However, the one common piece of advice that I have heard from all my teacher is to talk to upperclassmen who have already taken the class or are in the class and get their opinion.
I agree that students taking the course you are thinking of taking are the best source of information. After all, most teachers don??t teach the classes that you want to take the following year, and also, teachers don??t know what it is actually like to take the class.
Finding someone you know that is taking or has taken the class you are interested in to get an opinion isn??t as easy as it sounds. Asking people again and again if they take or have taken a class becomes quite tiresome, and it takes a lot of people to finally find one who can answer your questions. You also probably don??t want to rely solely on that one person??s opinion because everyone is different, so multiple opinions are probably best, which requires a variety of people.
Being unsure about which elective to take is also a difficult problem to solve. As a part of the JV basketball team this winter with eighth graders and having a younger sibling in eighth grade, has given me perspective on what it is like for them signing up for electives nearly blind. At one point, all of them were asking me questions about what seemed like every elective possible, sometimes just wondering what the class was even about. I felt bad only being able to answer honestly about one elective, as I??ve only experienced one elective for the last two years.
My small suggestion for the administration next year, before they request student schedule preferences, is to try and provide more information to students about classes they can take from other students?? opinion.
I recommend a video compilation of students explaining different classes or having students write their descriptions of classes that can make up a different version of the student handbook. Maybe we could have some sort of ??Classes Fair?? similar to the Club Fair, where there are student representatives from each class that can answer questions, one grade at a time.
It doesn??t matter how it??s done, but students should have more ways to be better informed of what classes are like to determine if the class is right for them. I understand that personalizing class definitions for each individual is near impossible, but if they could somehow connect with older students, it may prove to make the process easier for all.