Adi Saligrama

Guidance counselor Samson Luu begins to do preliminary work for the course scheduling process.

Course scheduling system challenges students to push their boundaries

Every March, WHS students make tough decisions to take certain classes at the expense of others. Due to WHS’s small grade sizes, many have difficulties taking all of the courses they request because of scheduling conflicts. Yet, many of these students have positive experiences from the alternative courses they take.

Generally, it is the Guidance Department’s responsibility to manage scheduling courses. Guidance counselor Samson Luu said that his department uses a computer system to organize course allotment.

“We try to prioritize seniors first, but it also depends on if your schedule fits. To arrange courses and schedules, we manually put classes where needed and run lots of trials and errors through [our computer system],” Luu said.

Luu also mentioned that while the course selection process can be difficult, only a small number of students are affected by scheduling conflicts.

“I would say that [this number] is actually pretty low. I don’t have an exact number, but at the end of the year we contact about 20 to 30 students to discuss [alternative course] options,” he said.

However, almost 80 sophomores, juniors, and seniors said that scheduling conflicts prevented them from taking a course they requested, according to an October 18 Wildcat Tracks poll.

Sophomore Afnaan Qureshi said that while the variety of courses offered is excellent, he could not take the courses he wanted because many met at the same time.

“There were so many courses which I wanted to take in addition to my normal course load, but the scheduling system limited me from doing so because there weren’t enough blocks. I chose to take AP Computer Science, but now I have a scheduled free during D block which I can’t fill with anything else,” he said.

Guidance department head Marla Schay commented on the cause behind some of these scheduling conflicts.

“In general, seniors who have a wide variety of English options often have to give more alternative [courses]. Often what happens is that one that you want to take meets at the same time as another class, and you would need to compromise and take a different English course,” said Schay.

Scheduling conflicts also present a unique difficulty to department heads in balancing student schedules. Science department head Erica Cole said that her department has faced issues with scheduling certain courses in the past.

“From year to year, the most common difficulty that we see in scheduling in any department is a singleton, or a course that meets during only one block. So for us, those include AP Physics and Engineering, which tend to be challenging,” she said.

Many students get positive experiences out of scheduling conflicts by taking courses they may not have taken otherwise. Sophomore Thea Kendall-Green originally hoped to take Novice French II this year, but due to a scheduling conflict she decided to do significant summer work and take French Intermediate I instead.

“I’m in Intermediate I as my first ever French course and I’m happy that this happened. With the work I did over the summer, I feel like I’m in a good place in the class. Now I can take Honors in senior year or even AP if I skip, whereas I would have been limited to Intermediate II if I had done Novice II this year.”

As students begin to finalize their course selections for the next school year, the guidance department will continue to work closely to optimize scheduling for students. Schay does not anticipate needing to change much about the scheduling process this year.

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