Think Carefully Before Picking Alternative Classes

May 19, 2021

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Every semester, students find themselves in classes that make them say “How did I end up here?”

Each February or March, students are asked to sign up for class and pick their top three elective choices, plus three to four alternatives. Their interest levels may stop at their top one or two favorites, figuring that it is unlikely that they won’t get them. But with some classes being only offered once a year, and other factors like needing to give priority to core or required classes, finding yourself in your third choice alternative class may happen more often than you think.

“Culinary was my first choice and Journalism was an alternative. Culinary is my favorite and Journalism is stressful, so I have mixed feelings,” said sophomore Samari Porter. 

Another effect students may endure from getting put in alternative classes is that they may find themselves struggling with other core classes. “I have definitely struggled. It becomes a problem when my electives have more work than my core classes,” said Porter. A pile up on work from classes that weren’t thought through when picked as an alternative choice can lead to students feeling as though they’re drowning in something they can’t get out of.

Picking classes isn’t always easy, as counselors have to follow a master schedule. “The master schedule consists of all the classes, teachers, and blocks that make up our school year. It takes a lot of time, attention to detail, and careful monitoring to make sure all students are placed in the correct classes needed to graduate,” said School Counselor Kelly Fallavollita.

If a student dislikes a particular class, they may have other options they can choose from if they act fast. “If they come to us early enough in the semester, we can try to find another class for them if there is space in that class and it fits with their schedule. If they come to us later in the semester, we encourage them to work through the challenge. Who knows? They might find they enjoy the class after they try it for a few weeks,” said Fallavollita.

There’s an importance for the majority of things, and that’s the case for alternative classes as well. “Oftentimes, a student’s first choices either fill up or do not fit into their schedule and alternate courses help us fill in the gaps with a backup option that the student will still enjoy,”  Fallavollita said.

While some students may struggle, other students seem to be doing just fine. “My stress level has been the same throughout the school year,” said freshman Isaiah Bradley who said he’s happy with how his schedule turned out.

Opinions vary on whether or not counselors should make it a requirement for students to choose alternative choices. “I don’t think counselors should make you choose alternative picks because you put first choices for a reason, and most people can’t even choose two class options,” said Bradley. 

On the other hand, if a student doesn’t choose alternate classes and none of their initial choices are available,  the counselors would have to put the student in a class for which they might have absolutely no interest.  So one way to look at it is that choosing alternative classes at least gives you some say in the matter.

Here are some suggestions that may be helpful when choosing your electives. “If it gives you a credit then, it’s probably worth it, so just keep working diligently until it’s over,” said Porter. 

Also, be sure to do you research before you sign up for classes. “We often hear from students who pick a class that it ends up not being what they expected. Take a look at the Program of Studies listed on our FCHS School Counseling webpage to learn more about your elective options. Also, feel free to reach out to your teachers and counselors if you have any questions. We are happy to help you pick choices that are right for you.”



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