Though the 2018-19 school year starts in fewer than eight months, all junior students recieved their schedule request forms on Thursday, Jan. 11. A week later, freshmen and sophomore received theirs.
School counselors presented registration information during juniors’ U.S. studies classes. Counselors informed students they could not change their schedules after March 1; however, Director of Counseling, Betsy Jones, says the process to change schedules after school starts has not changed. If students would like to add or drop a class, they must attend the first day of each class before requesting a change. On the third day of school, students may request a meeting with the counselor to adjust their schedule.
“As a school district, we build a schedule based on requests and then hire teachers to meet those requests. We cannot hire the best teachers when the numbers are constantly changing,” Jones said. “I think students do change their mind [about their classes,] but unfortunately this causes issues with master scheduling and sometimes means that students who don’t change their mind do get what they requested.”
Columbia Public Schools Community Relations Director, Michelle Baumstark, said starting course selection earlier helps ensure schools have enough teachers to meet course enrollment demands. If classes do not meet enrollment requirements, certain sections won’t be offered for the year or semester.
“The earlier we can begin the hiring process, if necessary, the better opportunity we have to find highly-qualified teachers or teachers in specialized subject areas that are difficult to find,” Baumstark said. “For example, teachers in certain languages or specific vocational-technical fields are difficult to find. Additionally, there is an ideal window of opportunity for hiring of teachers before they have committed to contracts in other districts for the following school year.”
Along with ensuring students have the most qualified teachers, the earlier schedule requests allows counselors to offer courses that best reflects students interests.[quote]“We are hoping that, with an earlier deadline, that students will make careful, informed decisions about course requests,” school counselor Dr. Jordan Alexander said. “I look forward to seeing how this new process works.[/quote]
Advanced Placement Language teacher Nicole Clemens experiences students dropping the course because of its difficulty level. Clemens said it depends year-to-year how many students will drop, but she prepares for about 10 percent. She also doesn’t believe having an earlier cut off date to switch classes will affect students.
“I don’t think that when counselors come in January that it’s the first time kids have thought about [classes], that never even crossed my mind,” she said.
While students may decide they want to change a class after March 1, junior Caroline Curtright sees the benefits of picking classes earlier in the year, although she is concerned she might change her mind on her class choices.
“I think giving us the schedule requests earlier has been helpful because we are able to start planning for next year before the semester gets busier,” Curtright said. “However, I wish we had more time to change classes in case we have second thoughts on classes in April or May.”
Through Clemens’ teaching experience, she recognizes the process to choose classes doesn’t take as long as students are given. She thinks students take as long as they are given.
“If [students] have four weeks to do it and they’re going to wait until the end of the four weeks, if they only have two weeks to do it, they’ll wait until the end of the two weeks,” Clemens said. “But the actual thought process, I think for most kids, is not that extensive so I don’t think it’s limiting [to have an earlier course selection].”
What classes are you taking next year? Let us know in the comments below.