Oakton Outlook

How to Choose Your Classes

Advice on everything from electives to APs.

Olivia Garrone, Staff Writer

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It’s that time of year again – the time to select your courses for next year. There are lots of big decisions to be made regarding everything from honors and AP classes to electives. If you’re still not sure what classes you’ll be signing up for next year, don’t worry. Read the advice below answering some common questions before you make your final decisions.

How many AP classes should I take?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number of how many AP or honors classes you should take. It’s different from student to student and you have to figure out how what number is right for you.

“I think they [students] have to look at a number of different things, starting with being honest with themselves and seeing whether or not they are going to work hard, or work sort of hard, or not work,” OHS guidance counselor Mr. Grausz said. AP classes typically involve lots of work, textbook reading and studying, outside of class. You have to think about it honestly and decide how much work you are going to put into it in and out of the classroom.

“Number two is just looking at how much else you have going on. We really want kids to do community service, we want them to do clubs and activities in school, outside of school,” said Grausz. “And I hear kids say, well, I won’t sleep, I don’t need sleep, and that’s physically impossible.” If you are doing a million other things besides school, the answer is not to drop out of these activities. Activities other than school are important to your life, too. It just means that you don’t have to take five AP classes along with it. Before you sign up for any AP classes, make sure you have enough hours in the day to do the homework or reading for that class along with everything else going on.

“Number three I think is talking to your teachers, like actually going up to your teachers and talking to them, with that honesty in mind, and seeing what they think and what they say about the next level class, and trying to put that all together with your parents or counselors,” said Grousz. Professionals and adults who have been through it all before are sure to have valuable advice.

Other students can also provide valuable advice, especially when it comes to the time commitment each individual class entails. Jay Deshmukh (11) is an expert when it comes to APs, taking six this year alone. It’s a commitment to do that many difficult classes, and he spends 3.5 hours on average working on homework. “Take an amount that you feel pushes you, but doesn’t drag you down,” said Deshmukh. You can try this by starting with one or two AP classes sophomore or junior year, then take more or less the next year, depending on how it goes for you.

What elective should I take?

With so many options, choosing your electives can be overwhelming. Try to pick something you’re interested in, and don’t limit yourself to just APs because you think they will look good on your college applications. Think of electives as a chance to learn about something you’re actually excited to learn about.

“My suggestion would be one of two things: either focus on that thing that you really are passionate about, whether it’s going to be a career goal when you’re my age or not, focus on that, or, if you don’t have that passion, try new things,” said Grausz.

Oakton offers lots of unique electives if you’re looking to try new things, including 3D art, Shakespeare studies, and Entrepreneurship. There’s even academy classes available to you with things like cosmetology and carpentry. Explore all of your options before you make your decision.

Before you finalize your schedule for next year, consider the advice. Challenge yourself, but don’t overwhelm yourself, and consider what else you have going on. Don’t forget about your most valuable recourse, your teacher, parents, and counselors! When it comes to electives, take things you’re truly interested in, or try something new to hopefully find your passion. Good luck with whatever you choose!

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How to Choose Your Classes