Program Planning Pointers

Olivia Magalio, Staff Writer

Around this time of year, there is always much talk about program planning. Current West juniors and sophomores begin to decide what their schedule will look like next year. We are lucky that our school offers such a wide variety of courses. However, that could leave students with a difficult decision to make. To help with that, I’ve come up with a few suggestions for those choosing their next year’s classes.          

While it’s important to challenge yourself, keep in mind that AP classes aren’t the end-all-be-all. It’s easy to find yourself caught up in the idea of filling your schedule with as many as you can fit. AP classes can be very beneficial. They allow you to dive deeper in a subject that interests you as you become familiar with a college-level course. Furthermore, they can provide a boost to your GPA because of the extra weight, and they can grant you college credits, depending on the school and your scores on the exams. Finally, representatives from colleges have said that they look at students’ schedules and like to see challenging classes. However, you can also challenge yourself in an Honors course, and sometimes AP classes take up a lot of room in your schedule, leaving little space for other classes you might want to take. I’d encourage students to think carefully about the subjects that interest them most when deciding which AP classes to take, as your motivation to complete homework, study, and work hard will come from your interest in the class itself.  

It’s important for students to create a schedule that is balanced but will challenge you. Whether you take AP or Honors, make sure to choose classes that will keep you engaged and challenge you as a student. To balance this out, I’d suggest looking through West’s extensive list of electives. From Ceramics to Film Studies to Sociology, I’m confident everyone can find an elective that they would enjoy. Having electives in your schedule can provide a fun break in your day, especially if your other classes are difficult. You can also meet people that have similar interests as you. 

While your plans can change over a year, another recommendation I have is to plan ahead. As a sophomore, it can be good for you to get an idea of what classes you’d like to ultimately take by your senior year. For example, you might decide to double up in science in junior year, which could give you a better idea of which AP science course to take in 12th grade. By thinking ahead, you can make sure you have the opportunity to take every class that interests you.  

I’d finally like to offer some ideas for classes to take, based on what other students have said. Personally, my favorite classes have been AP U.S. History and AP Physics Newtonian Mechanics; of the electives I’ve taken, I’ve especially enjoyed Photography and Debate. AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics are popular among students. Many people would recommend taking one of the cooking classes or Personal Finance, as both can be fun electives that teach important life skills.  

As students excitedly plan their schedule for the next school year, it’s important to keep in mind that you should create a schedule that best suits you. It might help to talk to parents, siblings, and student services counselors, as they may have beneficial advice on which classes to take. However, it should be your decision, as you’ll be the one in class every day. Don’t feel pressure to take certain classes because of what you’ve heard others do. Take time to explore your options and get an idea of what classes you’d like to take the following year, and create an academically rigorous but well-balanced schedule that you’ll succeed in and have fun while doing so.