As administration plans on releasing subject selection forms for the 2021-22 fiscal year, students should begin thinking about the courses they would like to take for the upcoming year. While subject selection remains, in essence, subjective, students should use the following tips to ensure the best possible outcome for themselves and their future.
How should freshmen approach their first subject selection at MPSH?
Freshman year marks the beginning of an important journey, and students should consider their end goals in high school when choosing their classes. Currently, Miami Palmetto Senior High School requires freshmen to take math, social studies, reading and science courses, while also allowing two elective courses. Rising freshmen have the option to take two Advanced Placement courses — AP World History and AP Human Geography — as well as AP foreign language courses, if they wish for a more rigorous course load.
Freshmen should consult their parents and their eighth grade teachers, as they know the student’s potential and can advise them on the best classes to take. While freshmen year remains an important year, colleges do not see this year as the most important; regardless, students should still choose a class that feels right for them.
“[This year,] whether to take one AP, two APs or all honors is something one really has to internalize; this is based on your desire to work hard,” MPSH College Counselor Harry Nerenberg said. “But, I always say go high, because it is easier to step down than to go harder.”
How early should students start thinking of graduation requirements and their future goals in regards to their subject selection?
Students should begin thinking about their next few years in high school as to prepare for their future and establish their goals. The state of Florida requires students to follow a 24-credit program in order to graduate, along with a Florida Learning Virtual School course worth one credit. As early as ninth grade, students should come up with a plan, whether on their own or with the aid of a counselor, regarding what classes they want to take each year and when they can take their virtual course.
“Course selection is not just about next year if you are an underclassman, it is about all four years,” Nerenberg said. “You have to make a plan of what you can handle, what you can balance and how you can be successful and still be a teenager.”
Should students continue taking more rigorous courses each year?
Yes; students should try to increase the rigor of their overall schedule throughout their four years at high school, as most colleges look for an increase in a student’s rigor. Students taking one AP or Honors class as a freshman should plan on taking two or three as a sophomore, and more as the years progress. Up until the last semester of senior year, students should work their hardest to maintain grades, as many colleges look at every grade to make sure they have maintained what they did in the past.
“There needs to be a balance regarding the rigor of classes and everything else,” MPSH CAP Interventionist and parent Linda Dwyer said. “The student needs to know why they are pushing themselves so hard, to what goal and for what reason.”
Is it more important to have a well-rounded schedule or one focusing on a particular subject or passion?
Palmetto offers a variety of subjects and electives, ranging from Digital Design to Weight Training to AP Computer Science Principles, which gives students the opportunity to enroll in a subject they enjoy. Thus, if a student has a passion, they should try and follow it while still maintaining a rigorous schedule that pushes them academically.
Should students take a certain amount of Advanced Placement courses for college?
In short, there is no “magic number” of AP courses a student should take throughout high school. The amount of AP courses a student takes depends on each student and their specific post-graduate goals. MPSH offers over 30 AP courses students can take throughout their four years in high school, and a student can choose to take many of them or none at all.
A student looking to go to a more rigorous and top-ranked university, however, needs to challenge themselves while a student simply looking to pass graduation requirements does not need to take as many of these courses.
“If a student is going through Palmetto taking three AP courses and another is taking ten, the University of Florida is going to look at that a lot differently,” Nerenberg said. “[But,] there is no one answer for each student; it is individualized, almost like a prescription.”
How should parents or guardians approach subject selection?
During subject selection, parents or guardians should know how their child approaches and handles schoolwork, which can determine how to help them when choosing a schedule for the upcoming year. While one student may push themself too hard, another student may feel unmotivated to push themself and another may know the right amount to push themself. Knowing this, a parent or guardian can choose to aid — or not to aid — their child when picking the right classes for the upcoming year.
“Especially right now, we adults need to remember that our children are indeed just that…children. This is the only childhood they will ever have,” Dwyer said. “Graduating and getting into college is very important, but a balanced life of rigor, fun and sleep will make the journey far more enjoyable.”
Where should students go if they have additional questions regarding subject selection?
MPSH has counselors for every student based on the first initial of their last name. These counselors can help students with their graduation requirements as well as enrollment in FLVS courses. The list of available counselors can be found below:
Angie King, last names A-Ba, T-Z
Luis Sanchez, last names Bd-D
Amanda Pinero-Trombly, last names E-J
Cheryl Concepcion, last names K-O
Lisa Mallard, last names P-S
Additionally, College Advisors Harry Nerenberg and Linda Dwyer can help students personally with creating their schedule as well as other college-related issues, and one can contact them through the following:
Harry Nerenberg, CAP
Linda Dwyer, CAP Interventionist
Students can access previous year’s subject selection forms as a reference at: https://www.palmettopanthers.org/m/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=278833&type=d