New Year, New Courses

By SIVARAGHA BUDDANA ‘22

As the unprecedented and unique online school year is coming to an end, it comes time to select courses for next year. With many new course offerings and changes to the curriculum for some classes due to the modified learning requirements, making a decision has become increasingly difficult—not just because of the pandemic, but because students have had limited interactions with their counselors and teachers. 

“I don’t know how much COVID has an impact on what incoming students will know about the course and now you really have me wondering.  I often have students contact me in the spring when doing course selections so that they can ask questions and get a better idea of what they are in for.  Over the years I have found that those students who reach out with an email are the ones who are most informed and ultimately really find the course rewarding,” said Jennifer Przygoda, an AP Biology and Anatomy and Physiology teacher at Edison High School. Receiving advice from teachers who teach elective courses can help with deciding on what course to take. 

“Many of my friends who are in a group chat designated for the school, had problems during course selection,” said Yash Tiwari ’24. “Many didn’t know the qualifications they need to move up a level in classes let alone, understand what courses are good for them and their future. This year itself is a driving force of misinformation.” Especially for freshmen, choosing courses can be chaotic. Because this is their first year, that too in online school, most freshmen aren’t aware of the information regarding the number of credits, requirements for graduation, or when to take what course. 

In addition, having to email counselors instead of meeting them in person can become difficult. With their busy schedules, counselors might not be able to email every student who has questions. If school were in-person, a student can make an appointment to meet with their counselors, which is much more convenient and efficient.

“Some students need to physically see their counselors to talk about class expectations, work requirements, and just social/emotional issues.  We miss the basic human face-to-face touch that we normally have with the children.  It’s way too quiet in the department.  We also missed having the 8th grade Parent Night in a physical mode.  This is a great way to talk to parents, discuss class expectations and explain how scheduling really works.  Hopefully, we can do that again next year,” said Dr. Diane Braungard-Galayda, the Supervisor of the Counseling Department at Edison High School. 

To add on, with the pandemic, many courses such as band, orchestra, and art all need to change their curriculum to fit their modified class setting. Art classes often require hands-on instruction, but with the pandemic making that impossible, teachers are forced to fix their curriculum to accommodate the online classes. For example, the ceramics class requires students to have clay at home so that they can make their projects as the teacher teaches through Zoom. Other classes such as orchestra require students to send in recordings of them playing their instrument. 

Overall, course selections have become harder due to the pandemic. With the ample amount of choices and changes to the placement criteria, many students struggle to choose an option. Hopefully, with the guidance of counselors and teachers, students will be able to choose courses that are right for them.