Course Selection Dissection

PowerSchool automatically presents course options for each student.

PowerSchool automatically presents course options for each student.

Towards the beginning of the second semester, Hopkinton High School students are faced with the task of course selection. It is not an easy process, as the school offers many courses that cover a variety of topics.

Reasons for selecting a course could range from personal interest, meeting the prerequisites, being recommended, or manually overriding to surpass the lack of a recommendation. No decision is binding, yet the course selection seems to be the most important part of ensuring the enjoyment of one’s time in high school.

There are plenty of reasons to select a particular course and plenty of routes to make the best possible schedule also most obtainable.

Requirements and Credit hours all play a role in selecting a specific course.
Photo by Hayden August
Requirements and Credit hours all play a role in selecting a specific course.

Courses are selected by a student on their PowerSchool account. They are faced with the task of choosing the course that will account for their required English, science, language, and history credits, as well as any wellness or electives they choose. Still, the process of course selection begins much earlier with teacher recommendation.

“This year we had teachers go into PowerSchool first and put down courses that they recommend for students,” said school counselor Cheryl Elder. “There have been discussions between students and teachers about those course levels. And then, after the teachers put in their recommendation, students can go in and select them in order to create a course list.”

For any student wanting to take a course without a teacher recommendation, there is an online form to begin the override process.

When the student has been recommended or has met the prerequisites for a class, it is automatically aligned in a list in PowerSchool, so the student can browse and choose what best fits them.

“You have to balance the workload of your courses so as to not completely overburden yourself. You should do something that interests you,” junior Sahit Bolla said.

“I talked to my guidance counselor, and he encouraged me to take these classes,” junior Sara Cahill said.

The guidance department is an important asset for each student. It is a guidance counselor’s job to point students towards classes that they feel will make the student successful and allow them to pursue their interests.

Photo: Cheryl Elder is a school counselor at Hopkinton High School
Photo by Hayden August
Counselor Cheryl Elder helps students select courses.

“Lots of times, in our individual meetings, we talk about student goals throughout high school. We try to advise students to take courses that they will enjoy and that they are really interested in so that they will reach their future goals,” school counselor Cheryl Elder said. “I know over the last week I’ve had many students reach out to me to ask to sit down for five or ten minutes even just to go over what courses they are thinking about and to make sure that course load would be the best one for them.”

While the guidance department can guide a student in the right direction, in the end, it comes down to the student to select what courses they feel are right for them. There are numerous factors that go into this decision.

“I look at the course directory. It really gives a great description of what goes on in a class,” junior Katy Holly said.

“Don’t take any challenging courses you’re not interested in,” sophomore Allison Fu said. “There are so many courses provided here. So if you like something, take advantage of it. Look at what you can get out of the class and what you can learn.”

Schedules will continue to be a part of any student’s life beyond high school. Learning how to effectively make a schedule that best suits an individual’s desired needs is an important skill for everybody. And remember, it could always be worse.

“My old school had seven periods a day, which made scheduling really hectic,” sophomore Allison Fu recalled.