Sense and Sensibility

Students, teacher consider what influences students’ decision-making for classes

Submitted Photos || Matthew Rao
Sophomore Matthew Rao completes his physics homework. Rao said this year he is taking six full weight classes.

Sophomore Matthew Rao has a tough schedule of classes this year. He said most of the classes he’s taking are STEM-related and six out of seven of them are for full weight. His current schedule includes Honors Pre-Calculus, AP European History, AP Chemistry, Human Body Systems, Spanish 3, AP Seminar and AP Physics 1. But even though Rao said most of his classes are for his future plans, he said he does feel a certain level of pressure at this school to take difficult classes regardless.

“I often feel pressure to push myself to take academically rigorous classes,” he said. “I think many other students feel the same way as we constantly compare ourselves to everyone else and there’s also that constant reminder of college applications.”

Junior Julia Fernandes said she agreed, and while she acknowledged those students who take tough courses for future careers, she said she also thinks many students only take challenging classes for college applications. 

Submitted Photos || Julia Fernandes
Junior Julia Fernandes plays the song “Right Now” by Sabrina Carpenter on her keyboard. Fernandes said that she took choir is because she enjoys playing music.

She said, “It feels like the bar is set really high and each year it gets higher; therefore, we (students) feel like we need to know how to do everything perfectly to get into a good college, which, unfortunately, is true. A lot of students with an all-AP schedule wear their stress like a badge of honor because that’s what they’ve been taught to do.”

Katie Overbeck, International Baccalaureate diploma coordinator, said she also sees students who have this mindset of what colleges see as acceptable.

“I think that students have this thought that college admissions people are only looking for students who have over 4.0 and have fully-weighted classes all over their transcript, and I don’t think that’s accurate but that’s a perception that some of the students come into high school feeling,” she said. 

Rao said regardless of what classes students take and what influences them to take it, there should be a fine line between what you actually want and not what college admissions people want. 

“My advice is not to let other people influence your decision too much,” he said. “You don’t have to constantly compare yourself to others. It’s important to understand that you should take classes that intersect you rather than classes that look good on your college applications.”