Students schedule classes for next year through a new process

This year, due to the pandemic and virtual learning, students have to schedule their own classes for next year instead of meeting with a counselor in-person to do so. Counselor Danielle Brino believes there are many reasons for changing the scheduling process and that the change is beneficial for counselors and students.

“We changed the scheduling process for [several] reasons; one, we had to find another way of doing it from what we’ve done in the past because we aren’t in-person. Second reason is, we’ve known that PowerSchool had [the] capacity to allow students to choose classes on their own and so this was our opportunity to use it. Three, we really like to give students the ability to feel empowered, that this is their schedule, this is their education. Students have always chosen their classes based on teachers recommendation and our guidance, but this was just a nice way of allowing them to look and see what their teacher recommended for them [while] looking at all the options,” Brino said. 

The counselors have put a lot of work into the new process. Even though students are now selecting their own courses, the counselors still have to be fairly involved to keep everything running smoothly. 

Infographic by Kasey Thompson

“We have the electives fair and opportunities for students to learn about all the different programs and courses at the high school [early in the year]. We want students and families to be educated on all the different options that they have. [Next], we went into all of [the] advisories and [classes] so that we could teach everyone [the process]. [Then, students] go on to PowerSchool [and] make [their] selections. After they submit it, if they have any changes that they would like to make after that, they can contact their counselor and we can make those changes for them,” Brino said. “Once that happens, we will close off course selections for all rising tenth through twelfth [graders], on March 24. We still have our rising ninth graders to get through, so we’re in the process of enrolling the course selection to them. At the end of the year, we will send them a copy just as a reminder of, ‘Oh, these are the classes I can expect to see in my schedule next year.’”

Some improvements still need to be made on parts of the process to make sure it is clear for students and teachers to use. 

“Right now we have some classes where we’ve put in the course description. Our goal is to eventually put every course description in for every course. It’s a lot of work, but we hope that next year when we do it again, it saves a lot of time [because] that will all be in there [already]. In the past, students have done it on paper and then, counselors have to enter all of that data and codes into PowerSchool. So, this is kind of a nice way of students selecting it. We as counselors don’t have to enter it, but we will go in later, and check to see that the courses that they’ve selected are correct and we can make changes,” Brino said. 

Putting all this work into scheduling will be worth it next year because they hope to continue using this new process when we go back to school in-person and for years to come. 

“A lot of work went into setting it up. Ms. Sweetman and Ms. Weaver did this really big job of setting it up for us. Next year, we’ll already have it in the system. It will be nice, but again, we’d like to put more into the course description so that it’s right there when you’re [looking at the] courses. We definitely want to hear from students though, as students are selecting their courses. We want to hear from them if it was easy, if it was hard and if there’s something that we could do that would make it clearer for them. The only part I think we worry about is some of the electives. I think the core subjects are pretty simple, but there’s so many different electives and we have to find certain ways of grouping them together. That part might seem a little confusing. They might be looking for a course [and] it might not be exactly where they think it should be and we’re finding that too. It’s a lot of learning for all of us, but we’re hoping to continue [this process], but definitely would love to hear students’ experiences,” Brino said. 

This time of year has been very different for counselors due to being used to how they did scheduling in previous years, face-to-face. 

“I think it felt different to us because whereas we’re used to going into the hallways or going into classrooms and trying to meet with a bunch of students, we’ve had to structure it differently by having these grade level meetings, so that was kind of something different. Then, from what we’ve done in the past, the easier part will be that we don’t have to enter all these codes [of students’ class selections], so that will be really nice. The other pieces [though] we will still have to go in and look at each student’s courses and make sure that it’s the right one. So, I think it feels different, but in a good way,” Brino said. 

So far from Brino’s perspective, student’s have not had a difficult time figuring out how to do scheduling on their own. 

“I haven’t heard that they’ve had difficulties at all. I think it’s something new and so whenever you have to do something for the first time it can [be] a little bit confusing, but for the most part, students that I’ve worked with have been able to clearly understand the directions and once they get in there and they do the first one or two then it seems pretty easy,” Brino said. 

Students, including juniors Abby Fornadel and Mia Stewart, have had varying experiences with the new process. 

Fornadel has already successfully submitted her schedule requests, but had difficulty communicating with teachers and counselors on what classes she needed to take. 

“[Scheduling has] been okay. It’s hard to know what classes to take because there’s minimal communication between me and my teachers. It’s harder when you’re not in person. It’s also a lot different because you don’t really get to talk through it with your counselor and you just kind of have to pick it by yourself. [However], you just kind of go through and select [the classes], so I thought it was pretty easy to pick [based on] what looked interesting,” Fornadel said. 

Stewart actually likes the new scheduling process more than how it was done in previous years. She liked being able to see all of her options and be able to pick from the overall list. 

“I think [scheduling classes is] a lot easier and simpler than last year, and years before at HHS because normally it’s a really complicated process that takes a while since there’s so many students. Getting to look at everything and then pick from the list of everything is a lot easier than doing it on paper because I feel like it’s less permanent. You can decide, but change your mind, and it’s easier to access. I just think it makes a lot of sense the way they’re doing it. I want to always do [it like this] because it’s so easy. [However], I didn’t know how many classes I would have to take. You’re supposed to take eight, but since I have [all] my credits and because I took AP and DE this year, I have enough that I don’t need to take them. [But,] I don’t think it was difficult at all really,” Stewart said. 

The easiest part of the process for Stewart was selecting her classes in PowerSchool. 

“I would say the easiest thing is probably doing the actual scheduling portion because you only have to click on it and then submit it. Because it’s online, it’s so much easier than doing how we normally would, like meeting with our counselor because that process takes forever. When you can just do it on your own time, [it’s so much nicer],” Stewart said.

So far, the only difficulties that Fornadel has run into is hoping that she gets the classes she signed up for because they may fill up fast. 

“I haven’t heard anything back yet about the classes I picked. I want to take Honors Government, DE English, DE Calculus, African American History, STEM Biotechnology, and Mentorship and Leadership Education. I have a feeling that some of the classes I did pick will fill up quickly. Hopefully, we will be in person so it’ll be different,” Fornadel said. 

Stewart however, has struggled with deciding what classes she even wants to take for her senior year, since she feels like she just scheduled her junior year classes. She has decided for the most part though. 

“The only thing that I struggled with was picking what classes I wanted to take because I feel like I just scheduled for my junior year, and [now] I’m [about to be] a senior, [like] is this a joke? I would say that’s the main struggle, is like just deciding what classes I wanted to do. I thought it was really clear though the way we did it; It wasn’t confusing. I’m taking a few easier classes because I don’t want it to be hard. I’m [taking] English 12 Honors and I’m taking DE Bio and Anatomy and Physiology 142, [which] is the second part of that class. I might take DE Calculus, but I’m not sure [yet]. I signed up for Medical Terminology, Honors Government and Chemistry Honors. I only signed up for six classes because I only needed six credits. I didn’t sign up for eight because I don’t need them all,” Stewart said. 

Counselors have tried to be available for one-on-one Google Meet’s when possible for students that have questions about their schedule. Fornadel met with her counselor recently. 

“I had a meeting with my counselor a couple days ago, I had some questions about what classes I should be taking and what I’m required to take, especially because it’s my senior year next year. I needed to hear what classes I have to take based on STEM and other things that I have to coordinate it with. She did a great job of answering [my questions],” Fornadel said. 

Stewart has not gotten in touch with her counselor recently due to hearing that they are overbooked during this time of the year. 

“I have not [gotten in touch with my counselor]. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s like really hard to get in contact with counselors right now,” Stewart said. 

For Stewart, the easiest part of the process was simply putting her classes into PowerSchool. 

“I would say the easiest thing is probably doing the actual scheduling portion because you only have to click on it and then submit it. Because it’s online, it’s so much easier than doing how we normally would, like meeting with our counselor because that process takes forever. When you can just do it on your own time, [it’s so much nicer],” Stewart said.