Tips for Building Your Schedule

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Two seniors work with a junior to help plan next year's schedule.

By Sarah Brunskill

Build a schedule that doesn’t destroy your mental health.
High school is four years of your life. Create a schedule that allows you to excel while also giving you time for studying, extracurriculars, for friends and family, and most importantly, yourself. Don’t challenge yourself to the level that your grade point average is going down, making you feel overwhelmed and not getting the sleep that you need. You have to make sure you’re not compromising your mental health and well-being.


What classes should students stick with all 4 years?

Try to keep the core five courses in your schedule throughout your four years of high school. This includes your English, social studies, math, and sciences. The fifth course is language, which is encouraged. The languages we offer are Spanish, French, and Latin.


Know the requirements for graduating as you begin to make your schedules.
The basic graduation requirements are four years of social studies, four years of English, a minimum of 3 years of math, a minimum of three years of science, and 2 language. This is either one for the Regents diploma or 3- four for the Advanced Regents diploma. You need a cultural art credit, a 1/2 credit for health, and physical education for all four years. And then electives bring you to 22. You can do how many electives you want as long as you make it up to 22. This can also help you with adding electives you like for all your years in high school. If you know what your schedule looks like with the requirements, you have a better chance of adding electives you want.

Get college credit.
There are a lot of classes offered that can get you college credit. I would definitely recommend looking into those classes. You can find them in the course catalog as you are making your schedules or ask your guidance counselor if you aren’t sure. The school has programs with ECC, Niagara University, RIT, And Syracuse, as well as AP classes at East. This can be a big help once you are already in college.

Best recommendations for scheduling senior and junior year?
Try to challenge yourself. Always take a challenging course load but not too much to the point where it will do you more harm than good. You want to make sure you’re developing the skills that you need to be successful, especially if your plan is to go to college.

How long should you try a class before dropping?
Figuring out the right amount of time to give a class before deciding on dropping it can be difficult. Some students don’t give a class enough, and other times students know within a week that it’s not for them. Things to keep in mind if you are deciding whether or not the course is for you: is the content too challenging, is the content of interest to you, if you have the time to properly study and do the work for the class. If you find that the class isn’t for you, it would be worth having a conversation with the teacher, and you can both go over your options from there.

You can move around your schedule after the year starts (keep in mind that there are limits).
You can potentially change the schedule after the school year starts but there could be limits during the year. For example, classes can be closed, or it could disrupt the entire schedule for the school. It could put a free period at a time that is less desirable. There are a lot of implications, so working to set up the best schedule for you before the year starts right out of the gate is most likely the best option.

Would completely filling up your schedule be okay?
Completely filling up your schedule depends on the student. Some students will take 7 1/2 others will take 8 1/2 and fill up their whole schedule. Completely filling up the schedule isn’t always the healthiest option but some students can handle it. I would recommend taking the time to consider if that is the option you want to take. It’s definitely easier to schedule yourself for 7 ½ credits and drop one course to free up your schedule a little more if you find it’s overwhelming.

How often do scheduling conflicts occur?
No schedule works out just the way you want it to. So some things get bumped out or moved to an inconvenient time. It varies from year to year, and it depends on the master schedule that’s created and how yours lines up with it. Some of the courses don’t run because not enough students are signed up or have enough interest in it.

Don’t completely free up your senior year.
You don’t want to completely free up your senior year because colleges are looking at your schedules. You want to take as challenging of a course load as you had previously. For your earlier years don’t completely overload your schedule. Make sure you can handle the same course load throughout high school. If you take a good amount of classes in high school, you can have more flexibility with your schedule senior year.