See You Next (School) Year

Potomac Falls students have started to think about their schedules for the 2021-2022 school year

As the first semester turns into the second, it’s easy for the school year to feel slow and sluggish. Both teachers and students are buried with assignments and burdened with report cards. We seem to forget that there are priorities that lie beyond deadlines. Then, on top of all the work you have, the question arises: “What classes do you want to take next year?” “Next year” feels like an undetermined, mere possibility. Who knows what “next year” will look like. With juggling a pandemic, online learning, and new classes, thinking about planning the next school year seems like a whirlwind of  “what ifs”. But you have to do it, and so does every student you go to school with. Schedule planning definitely looks different this year, so what has gone into students choices regarding their academic future and how does the mysterious unknown of the future play into those decisions? 

The process of finalizing classes can range from a five minute discussion to a week’s worth of worrying. “[I have] made my decisions about my academic classes and believe they’re the right fit for me,” said freshman Valeria Alvarado. “But, I’m still in the process of deciding what electives I want to take in sophomore year.”

Sophomore Natalie Wike is still undecided about the fate of her schedule, saying, “I have not fully decided what classes I am taking next year because I want to continue to talk it over with my parents and talk it over with my counselor.” 

Regarding the possibility of being online again next year, students have to decide whether they want to stay in complete distance learning (DL) or hybrid learning. Wike is not letting the possibility of being online next year interfere with her schedule choices. “I have not really factored whether we will be DL or not next year into my decision because I don’t think that it would make too much of an impact on what classes I take.” 

Pressure from friends can also sway students’ minds when trying to decide on classes, not to mention choosing electives that best showcase themselves, adding even more scheduling pressure. Every year around this time, there’s always a certain class that becomes a common conversation topic among students. “AP World History and Yearbook are talked about quite a bit,” said Alvarado.

With so many options to choose from, weighing the pros and cons of certain classes can be tedious work. Junior Hudson Barth shares,“my friends have talked about the difference between AP and DE gov.”

The fundamental differences between AP and DE classes is also a conversation among the sophomore class.“I know a lot of people are debating with DE vs. AP for history and english,” said Wike. 

So what’s the biggest thing that students consider when picking their classes? The High Schooler’s brain typically revolves around concerns for college and the future. Wike’s advice for choosing the right class is that “You want to be careful to not make decisions that could potentially make you look worse in the eyes of colleges that you are interested in.”

Picking classes is just one step up on the staircase that is your future. “I’ve decided my classes based on what I want to major in,” said Barth.

Barth plans on majoring in biomedical engineering, which has helped him determine what classes may be important for him to take.

“I make my decisions by choosing something that truly interests me and could possibly help me with my future major,” said Alvarado.

Time management is another factor that students consider. “Creating a manageable schedule for myself,” is something that Wike contemplates while creating her school schedule. 

Possibly the most helpful, or stressful, part of scheduling comes when you meet with your counselor. A school counselor is someone who answer questions and calm your worries. One question that Alvarado thinks is important to ask is “are my classes going to bombard me with stress and take away time from the things I enjoy doing?” 

Some students, however, find themselves completely calm regarding the counselor meeting. “I talked to my counselor about what I want to do after high school, and I don’t really have specific concerns,” said Barth.

Wike is grateful for the opportunity to get professional advice from her counselor. “I want to talk to my counselor about making sure that I do not overload myself with difficult classes next year, and whether or not the electives I am interested in taking are good choices for my interests,” said Wike.

While it may seem like too much to even think about, picking classes is a great way to get excited for the next school year. The opportunity to start from scratch and find classes that interest you is one that should be taken seriously. It is also a chance to dive into new interests and consider what you want your future to look like. Next school year will be different in many ways, individually because of the new classes we choose to take, and as a whole because maybe we will be able to experience these new classes in person.