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A weeklong tradition started at the Bay again on Feb. 1 as access to course selection for the 2021-2022 school year opened for grades 10 through 12. Guidance Counselor Christine Banach said although the purpose of the event was the same, the replacement of physical course selection cards with virtual Microsoft forms served as both a change in the procedure itself and a representation of the greater shift in education since the pandemic began. 

“It has made it a bit harder because students cannot just walk to the teacher’s classroom, as many students are still home,” Banach said. “Virtual learning has also made students re-evaluate their courses in the sense that they are asking themselves if they want to take a certain class virtually.”

Banach said her involvement in the course selection process this year has included developing the presentation posted on Canvas for sophomores and juniors. Banach said her job has also entailed helping students assemble well-balanced schedules aligned with graduation requirements, goals and interests.

“I suggest that students consult with their counselors,” Banach said. “Your counselor is always here for you to direct you and redirect you if you need to be on another path.”

Freshman Julian Martinez said he agrees that effective counseling is an important asset for successful course selection. He said seeking out an adult who is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the school’s list of classes is helpful in clearing up questions. 

“I used to be a little confused on which classes were usually taken each year,” Martinez said. “Talking to a counselor is a very effective way to pick your classes, especially if you have no older siblings.” 

Banach said her number one piece of advice to students selecting their courses this year was to follow the sources of their curiosity and to obtain an equilibrium between challenging and undemanding courses. Above all, Banach said students should remember that course selection is not an ultimatum on life.

“Go with your interests and do not feel pressure to stack super high-level classes, just because it looks good; this is not the end-all-be-all,” Banach said. “We all have different strengths and interests, and we need to foster our individuality.”

Junior Alyson Port said taking courses such as AP Calculus AB, AP Psychology and AP Biology has taught her that choosing how many college-level courses to take is one of the most crucial decisions for maintaining the balance Banach described. Port said she advises students to reflect on what they want and what they are willing to put in before coming to an answer. 

“Students should decide how many college-level courses to take based on how many they think they can handle and do well in,” Port said. “Those that work hard and are willing to put in time and effort to studying and completing assignments are the fittest for these courses.”

Similarly, Port said obtaining the right amount of information in preparation for post-secondary education is key to future success. Port said this means students who have already decided their careers of choice should take advantage of the opportunities offered in high school, while students who have not found their callings should not feel the pressure to specialize.

“If a student knows what subject they want to study in college, then it can be a good idea to take classes relating to that field,” Port said. “But if you aren’t really sure, then it’s good to just take classes that interest you.”

Martinez said although the vast number of courses may add a degree of stress to the difficulties of being a student, there is also a considerable advantage to having the freedom to select what one likes. He said it is because of this wide scope of opportunities that he is able to pursue his passion for computer science by progressing from AP Computer Science Principles to AP Computer Science A next year.

“Drawbacks of having this many choices include how it can be a waste of money or personnel for classes no one takes or how students can be easily confused,” Martinez said. “However, the benefit is that all students have at least something they like taking, and I’m looking forward to getting better at coding because of this.”