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Course Remorse

September 16, 2022 at 10:00:00 PM

Norah Copenhaver '24

Whether you are a returning student or a new student, you may have experienced stress and confusion when selecting your classes prior to an upcoming school year. The school often makes it seem like every student has control in choosing their classes to meet their own expectations and academic level. Despite this, you may have realized that this isn’t usually the case.

Personally, in past years, I've found myself bored and restless in classes because I wasn't allowed the opportunity to choose my own academic path. When I attempted to select my courses, I was often met with an email along the lines of, “After discussing with your teacher, we don’t believe this class is right for you,” referring to my wish to take an honors or advanced studies course.

At Mercersburg, we are encouraged to do our best and strive for greatness, but at the same time the school makes students feel like they aren’t aware of their own academic limits and capabilities. The notion that other people know more about what’s best for your academic load seems to take away from the individuality that’s celebrated at Mercersburg.

Despite being a returning student, I know it can be difficult for new and transfer students, too. Coming in as an upper-middler, let's say you may have taken many APs at your previous school, but you are rejected or discouraged from taking honors or advanced studies courses. This makes it harder to demonstrate academic growth on your transcript across a transfer in schools. You may fight for your choice in classes and send a million emails back and forth, but many new students don’t know of that option. Course selections shouldn’t come down to battles over email with the Academic Office.

I understand that the faculty and administration mean well and want to set students up for success in their classes. Obviously a tenth grader who barely passed geometry should not take honors precalculus. However, at the end of the day, the Academic Office should not have the final say in deciding someone's potential in a subject. Students, new and old, should be trusted to judge their own academic ability with minimal interference from the school administration.

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