As students begin planning for next year, there are several factors to consider, but none are more important than choosing the right courses. Yet, many students do not know where to find information about a particular class apart from a few paragraphs in the course catalogue.
Although many other resources are available, they are often poorly publicized, incomprehensive or even inaccurate. The Campanile believes that increasing the role of teacher guidance, Input Club and student perspectives in the course selection process would better allow students to choose courses that are suitable for them in terms of workload, time commitment, rigor and area of interest.
Differences in teaching style and outdated course catalogue descriptions often mean that the course itself is drastically different than its description, making alternate sources of course descriptions all the more important.
Although the course catalogue offers a general overview of any given class, it gives minimal detail regarding day-to-day tasks and assignments. However, a class’s daily workload can play a relatively large role in a students’ decision about the course, and should not be overlooked in the course selection process. Therefore, The Campanile proposes teachers hold open houses or panels for their classes at Flex during the weeks before course selections are due.
These open houses could be reserved for one specific class or multiple classes, and would allow students to gain a better understanding of how classes operate on a day-to-day basis. It would allow students to ask questions and gain answers directly from the source, and give teachers the chance to discuss any changes in curriculum or rigor. This system would also benefit students considering non-traditional courses, such as blended classes and eighth period classes.
Paly’s Input Club is another excellent but under-publicized resource for students looking for additional guidance about course selection. Its website has records on nearly every class at Paly, along with information including the average grade in the class, estimated time spent on homework, a class syllabus and, if applicable, the number of students taking the Advanced Placement (AP) test and the distribution of AP test scores.
The website also includes detailed descriptions of some of Paly’s less-traditional options, such as the the Social Justice Pathway and blended learning courses. Additionally, it features homework and credit calculators to help students manage their time and ensure that they have enough credits to graduate. This valuable resource must be publicized more both to returning Paly students and to incoming freshman.
Although Input Club provides provides students an excellent resource to gain a better understanding of courses, there still isn’t enough space for student perspectives. After all, students who have taken a course and experienced the workload, homework and tests are likely the most qualified people to ask for advice.
While many students can and do ask friends in different grades for advice, this strategy is impractical for many students, particularly the younger ones. Freshman- and sophomore-level classes tend to be much more segregated by grade than classes offered to juniors and seniors, minimizing the amount of advice younger students can recieve.
In a recent editorial, The Campanile offered a solution to this problem: create a central network for Paly students to ask and answer questions about the Paly experience. This would help solve many problems, one of which is the course selection process. By utilizing Input Club, teacher guidance and student conversations, that need for better resources can feasibly be met. These resources will ensure that when a student chooses a course, their decisions will be in the best interest of their educations.