4 Things I Wish I Had Known as an Underclassman.

class choicesWe first published this article written by then Ridgewood NJ High School junior, Molly McCarthy, in May of 2016. This is a good time to remind our high school students to take a breath and take some good advice from an upperclassman.

Course requests are a high stress time in high school as students are required to choose classes that they won’t actually take until September, even January for semester classes. There are tons of factors to consider when selecting courses but here are some things I wish I had known as an underclassman!

1. Do not take a class with a fancier name without finding if the work will pay off.

While “Literary World Views” may sound more prestigious than English 9, students in these two classes receive the same credit. They are placed on the same track moving forward and doing well in either of them will give you a fair shot when applying for interdisciplinary programs such as AHLISA, AMSTUD and RAHP. I am not saying that these advanced classes are not an excellent way to challenge yourself, because they are. However, based on my experience and the experiences of my friends, if really challenging yourself is not a priority for you as an incoming freshman, I would stick with the basics and go from there!

2. Do not choose classes solely based on what your siblings or older friends have taken or told you about the class.

I am definitely guilty of this one and while in certain ways I’ve totally been steered in the right direction by my siblings, there are a lot of courses offered at the high school and I’m disappointed that I will graduate without having taken any visual arts classes, for example. Choose classes based on what you are interested in and how successful you think you will be, you know yourself best! I have seen time and time again students who shy away from classes because someone has told them that all the teachers of that subject are tough or mean or give too much homework. By not giving those classes a chance you could be missing out on an awesome course or a special relationship with said “mean” teacher!

3. Do find something that you can see yourself continuing and growing in!

This could be a foreign language, an art, or any other sort of elective that offers multiple levels! Taking a class for more than one year lets you really foster any interest you have in the subject. More importantly, having a teacher for more than one year is a great way to build a relationship that could land you with an unique and genuine college recommendation as well as an awesome resource for all things in and out of the classroom.

4. Do formulate a balanced schedule that will not overwhelm you!

Especially at my high school, there is a lot of pressure to take as many Honors and AP classes as possible, all for that ultimate goal of getting into college. While a rigorous workload is impressive, it doesn’t take a college counselor to figure out that if you aren’t going to succeed in a high level (AP) class, it’s a good idea to consider a regular or honors level where you’re confident that you’ll get a good grade and be under a healthier amount of stress. Take advantage of the fact that for many subjects, classes are offered at all 3 levels!

MollyMcCarthy2CropMolly McCarthy is a junior at Ridgewood High School in NJ, and one of four girls! She participates in New Players, Sharing the Arts, and Student Government among other things and is excited to share some tips and teenage perspective!

If you are a high school student and want to contribute for your townsend us an email with your name, school, year in school, and interests. Include a sample writing piece which best demonstrates your ability to convey your opinion or a story clearly and concisely. 

 You might also enjoy Molly’s article on weekend homework: Even God Rested on Sundays.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email