Course Selection Advice from a Senior

Image Source: Belmont Public Schools

Image Source: Belmont Public Schools

Analise Bruno, Editor-in-Chief

As a senior, I’ve been through course selection more times than I felt necessary. It was always dreadful, I never knew what classes I wanted to take, and I was constantly worried about fulfilling my graduation requirements and maintaining a competitive course load., Looking back, perhaps it was as bad as I made it out to be, but I wish I had some advice from people who had taken the classes before. Fortunately, youŕe in luck because that is what I am here to do! From APs to electives I’ve gone through my fair share, so when selecting your courses for next year, maybe keep some of these recommendations in mind:


Advanced Placement Classes

It’s easy to get roped into the allure of taking an AP class because it boosts your GPA, and if you take enough of them, you get a workshop period. However, the biggest advice I can give to anyone considering an AP course would be this: Do NOT take the course if you don’t even have the slightest interest in the subject. I learned that the hard way as soon as the workload got piled on.


AP Environmental: This was the first AP I ever took, and to be honest, it was a nice introduction to the AP world, but I strongly advise against it if you are not a science person. What they don’t tell you about AP sciences is that it doesn’t just cover the biological origins of life but also deal with a great bit of math. I struggled with the units that involved math in particular (the energy unit) because neither science nor mathematics is my strong suit. However, I think that if you are passionate about climate change and/or are interested in being more sustainable, learning about the origins of pollution, and getting some semblance of biology mixed in, I would recommend the course. At the end of the day, I think this subject is something everyone should take just to understand more about our planet and the steps we can take to preserve it, but that doesn’t mean it has to be at the AP level for you. I took this exam during the start of the pandemic so it was shortened, but I honestly found it to be one of the more challenging exams I’ve taken, though it was manageable. 


AP Language: English has always been my favorite subject and my main hobbies include reading and writing so of course I loved this class. However, I will caution you with this: the exam is no walk in the park. The AP Lang exam has one of the lowest passing scores according to the college board. Not to scare you, but the exam will require you to answer some multiple-choice and then write three different essays, often back-to-back. However, this shouldn’t deter you from taking the class either. I learned so much about formal writing and diving deeper into a story than what is on the surface. It certainly exposes you to so many styles of writing that I found have assisted me in so many ways. Reading comprehension and formal writing is tough, but I think in this case the benefits outweigh the challenges and I would highly recommend anyone who genuinely enjoys English class to take this course. I planned on majoring in journalism/media and communications in college so both this and AP Lit I feel helped prepare me for the writing aspect. 


AP Biology: I have a love-hate relationship with science because I think the topics covered are so complex and interesting, but as I said before, no subject stumps me more than math. I find that the hardest AP exams belong to the science categories, and biology is no exception. The concept of biological life is not easy to configure, nor is it easy to learn, but I would still advocate you take this course if you are up for an interesting challenge. This AP had one of the most manageable workloads and was structured in a way that I felt always enabled me to learn from my mistakes without totally wracking my grade. The reality is, APs are hard classes to maintain a good grade in, but I found that this course made that better. Like any class, some topics will be harder than others, while I thoroughly enjoyed the Cell and Organelle unit, the Cell Respiration topic threw me for a loop. At the end of the day, I think that if you enjoyed Biology Honors and want a science similar to that, I would opt to take this class, it was the main reason I decided to in the first place.


AP US History: I was scared to take this course because I knew I was about to unleash a heavy workload on myself, both in completing assignments and studying. In my first few weeks of taking the course, I had thought I made the biggest mistake of my life, but as I got into the units, the more I began to love the subject. History can be boring if you focus mainly on the memorization of dates and events. However, I think when you expose yourself to such a raw subject that opens you to the reality of our past and how we came to be as a country is incredible. I took the course with Mrs.Flanagan who beyond prepared me to get a perfect score, and it is now taught by another incredible teacher: Mr.Leonardo! (Having had him for Freshman year history I can attest you will learn many things in the most enjoyable way possible). Most importantly, I find that knowing the actual history of our nation has provided me with proper education in a plethora of different areas that have enabled me to understand the foundations of our politics, judicial system, and upbringing. 


AP Psychology: I took Intro to Psychology my junior year and I loved it so I decided to take it at the AP level senior year and I do not regret my decision. You rarely notice how often principles of psychology are present in your everyday life such as aspects of learning theory, cognition, the biology of the mind, sensation, perception, etc. However, once you take the course, you’ll be enlightened by these slight nuances you come across. I enjoy learning about human beings and what exactly makes them act the way they do, so I think this course is so much fun. It does involve a little bit of math, and a bit more biology than you would think, but to be fully transparent I don’t find it to be overwhelmingly difficult to grasp at all. I think the best part about this AP is that even though it is more notes based, we do get to model a lot of experiments and concepts in the classroom and with demonstrations, games, puzzles, and videos which makes it so enjoyable. I would highly recommend this AP, particularly for the person who has really good memorizing abilities, because it is filled with a lot of vocabulary. 


AP Literature: As stated before, I am a huge fan of literature, reading, and writing so I felt like this was a good course for me. I would say that just because you enjoyed AP Lang that doesn’t mean you should take this class because although the two of them relate, they are simultaneously their separate concepts. Rather than just analyzing symbolism and pulling themes as you would in Lang, you’ll be looking more closely at the structure of writing, the setting, characters, plot development, etc. that give the story meaning. There is a lot of classic literature which may be hard to get used to for some people, however, I think that once you become accustomed to it, the classic literature begins to grow on you. The bulk of the reading does occur at home, but you will feel supported by class discussions and individual help to make sure you completely get the concepts being presented. As of now, I’ve had the chance to read Jane Eyre, Macbeth, and The Kite Runner- as well as some short stories and poems. If you are strong in English Language Arts and/or genuinely enjoy reading I think this is the AP for you to try out. 


AP Statistics: I was very anxious to take AP math because as we covered I loathe the subject, however, I think that if you are in the same boat as me, this may be one of your better options. Senior year is hard because there are pretty limited options, but don’t let that scare you. Like with any math course, some units will be harder than others, but I feel that it is very manageable to grasp some semblance of what is being taught. The great thing with statistics is that it is a measure of data and probability that you will most definitely use at one point in your life, even if it’s not as complex as the stuff you learn. If you’re interested in majoring in business or psychology in college I would highly recommend this course because it will be an asset to you by already knowing some of the foundations. The homework is very manageable, and though topics can get confusing I’ve never found the AP style questions to be unbearably hard (to be honest I thought precalc was more difficult). 


These are only the APs I have taken, however, WHS also offers AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, AP Computer Science, and AP Physics as well. If you’re interested in learning more about these alternatives as well I would highly recommend you speak to the teacher who runs the course or students taking the class to see if it would be a good fit for you (especially if you liked it at the honors level)- word to the wise: don’t trap yourself in an AP you dread.



Art I/ Art II: I’m a bit disappointed I never got to go farther with taking art because unfortunately, I did have to make some schedule sacrifices. However, I would highly advocate for anyone to take this course even if you don’t think you’re a great artist. I find having this class in my schedule is a great break from focusing heavily on academics and getting to focus more on creativity. I’ve gotten to experience so many different art mediums and forms that have been so enjoyable. I’ve worked with still life objects, surrealism drawings, watercolor, perspective sketches, constructed a paper house, etc. all of which were super fun and amazing so I highly recommend you try it out, and if you love it, take it until you graduate.


Lit & Film: As I said before I love to read, but I also really love film and analyzing it so I knew right away this was the class I wanted to take. I had Ms.Irvine as my teacher and I can confidently say this is one of my favorite classes I have ever taken. You get exposed to so many interesting movies and readings to go along with them that open up great debate and discussion. Some people might get thrown off by the whole “literature” aspect, but honestly, I never find it overwhelming or challenging. What we do read is interesting because it directly relates to the concept we are learning about. We have covered units like happiness, fate v free will, fear, and justice with films like Slumdog Millionaire, Us, The Sixth Sense, Misery, Goodwill Hunting, Inside Out, The Dark Knight, Get Out, Into the Wild, etc. I always have a great time in the class and firmly believe it is one of the best elective courses you can take.


While I didn’t take that many electives throughout my high school career, we do offer a pretty interesting range of options that also include:

  • Drama
  • Photography
  • Digital Video Production
  • Child Growth (more geared towards upperclassmen- seniors/juniors)
  • Facing History
  • Advanced Gym

These elective courses also require interviews (so think ahead if you plan on trying out one of these courses):

  • Viking Longships
  • Life Skills

Other Classes to Check Out!

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • World Languages!: WHS students are required to take 2 years of a language to graduate, but you’ll find that many colleges prefer you take 3+ years. I regret not taking a language junior year, and trying to pick it up again my senior year was a bit tricky so my best piece of advice is to stick with it if you like it.
    • Spanish III, Spanish IV
    • Italian I, II, III, IV

Hopefully, my opinions gave you some insight into which classes you may be interested in taking, but at the end of the day, always do what is best and most manageable for you- not necessarily what will boost your GPA or put you with your friends.