Things I Wish I Knew Before Registering For Courses

Taking the courses you enjoy benefits learning more

 To set the record straight, I am happy with the classes that I’ve taken at the Upper School. I have been challenged, interested, and pushed in each of my classes, growing me into the learner and individual that I am today. However, if I had received more advice about registration I do truly believe that I would have made different decisions about the way that I registered for courses, and I think that I would have enjoyed each of my classes so much more. 

Don’t take a class for college, don’t take a class for your resumé, don’t take a class because it seems like it’s “hard.” Take classes that will benefit you as an individual––physically and mentally

First and foremost, I strongly disagree with the way that so many individuals view APs, especially at Blake. We are each fortunate enough to attend a school where every class is considered “college preparatory” level, meaning that even “regular” classes are considered more challenging than “regular” classes at other public high schools. Yet, AP-level does not mean a class is necessarily more challenging than other elective courses that aren’t AP. That is the biggest misconception with courses at the Upper School. AP is a specific curriculum that is nationally controlled and supposedly with certain test scores (which everyone has to pay for out of pocket by the way, usually around $100 a test) an individual may receive college credit. I am emphasizing the word may because, in reality, how could a class that you decided to take your sophomore year of high school be the same level as a college-level course of the same subject? Well, it’s not, and colleges don’t award much credit for many APs because of this. In some cases, colleges will give a miscellaneous credit for a score of 4-5 on an AP, but this credit does not help toward college graduation, the only fruit of your labors being a slightly earlier course registration date in college. 

This raises the question: if you are taking APs for college, is it really worth it? This is a question I wished I had asked myself much earlier on in my Upper School career. While it is true that many APs attract a certain type of student, making the class as a whole potentially more driven and faster-paced, at the end of the day it comes down to what you really want. I wish that I had taken electives that I was truly interested in; I wish that I hadn’t caved to the pressure of feeling like I need to challenge myself to the breaking point; I wish that I didn’t need a pandemic to teach me that I was trying to do too much. 

Please, please, please, if not for heeding my advice, do it for your own sanity. Take classes that you are actually interested in. Challenge yourself to think deeply and critically about the things that you enjoy. Obviously, not every class will be equally interesting, but you are in control of the courses that you take: you will be the one to suffer through a class that you take because you succumbed to the pressure. 

Don’t take a class for college, don’t take a class for your resumé, don’t take a class because it seems like it’s “hard.” Take classes that will benefit you as an individual––physically and mentally––after all, you are the one that will have to suffer through a lecture that you do not find interesting and, therefore, don’t really care about. At the end of the day, it’s all about having a positive growth-mindset: take something because you’re intrigued, take something because you are passionate, take something because it is out of your comfort zone. You are at school to become a lifelong learner, to discover your passions, and to grow into a global citizen.