Looking Into the Future: Scheduling Advice with Ms. Pomfret

Advice and knowledge about the scheduling process

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Rescue Time Blog

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To help guide underclassmen students in scheduling, two of our Watchdog staff went and talked to Ms. Pomfret to get advice and knowledge about the scheduling process. Below is an abridged Q&A, edited for length and clarity, that you can listen to in full on our “Looking into the Future” podcast on Youtube.

Q. What general advice would you offer high school students? 

A. To be really realistic about what your choices are, always keep in mind your graduation requirements, and a piece of advice I give out to is “push yourself, just don’t push yourself off a cliff.”

Q. Specifically for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors? 

A. For freshmen, find out what worked well this year, and what can you do to improve. For sophomores, be thinking about life after high school and know that you are at the midpoint of your high school career and to take grades very seriously. For juniors know that you’re applying to college and to be mindful of your workload.

Q. What courses would you recommend for students planning on attending in-state schools? 

A. For Virginia colleges, know that both advanced and standard diplomas will get you into college, but also know that Virginia school course preferences align well with the advanced diploma requirements, such as the foreign language and math requirements.

Q. What courses would you recommend for students planning on attending out-of-state schools? 

A. For out of state schools the advanced diploma has the same advantages as for in-state schools, but also many out-of-state schools have certain requirements like fine arts requirements for California and South Carolina schools. It’s important to keep these in mind so that senior year doesn’t roll around and you haven’t fulfilled them.

Q. How many AP’s would you suggest for students to take? 

A. It depends on the child and interests, but you should never overload yourself. If you need to overwhelm yourself with work to get into college, perhaps it’s not the right college for you.

Q. Explain the graduation requirements for each grade level – everyone is exceedingly confused.

A. For everyone currently at Hylton, there are standard and advanced diplomas. The only difference is that the SOL requirements are different. Current freshmen and sophomores have only 5 SOL requirements, however, if you are currently a junior or senior you need 9 SOLs for the advanced diploma and 6 for the standard. If you are a freshman or a sophomore you also need sequential electives, like Journalism I and II, which is new to the graduation requirements. This is not a full description of all the graduation requirements, and you should ask your counselor for more information.

Q. What are niche classes students are not really aware of and who should take them? 

A. Anything in social studies, but particularly Psychology and Sociology are very good classes also. Many students forget about weight training, or Advanced PE, which is good for getting your exercise in and getting one full credit. The leadership class is a great class if you want to get involved but don’t necessarily know how. Any class in the world language department as we have so many different languages to choose from, the criminal justice classes and our art classes are also great options. There are also different transport programs for nursing or cosmetology, for example, which you have to apply for. There are so many different opportunities, so definitely check out the counseling website!

Q. How much do classes I take now affect my college career? 

A. Classes now, especially harder classes, can teach you work habits and how to deal with rigor, they can help you waive certain classes in college, but one thing to keep in mind is that just because you do it now doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. There might seem like a sequential path you have to take for certain career paths, like if you want to be a lawyer, but in reality, many people experiment with different things. There are definitely people who major in biology and then head off to law school –  it’s not always a direct path to the things that you want to do.

Q. What’s the difference between Pre-AP and AP?

A. There are very crucial differences between the two types of classes. Pre-AP classes are preparing you for the AP classes, so they are more rigorous but not quite as hard, and also do not have an exam. They are good for learning better work habits and making an effective transition, especially for freshmen from middle to high school. AP classes follow the AP curriculum set by the College Board, tend to be more difficult, and include a mandatory end of the year exam that is paid for all students at Hylton.

Q. AP vs. Dual Enrollment?

A. Every college changes its requirements and policies for credit transfers every year, but there are differences in Dual Enrollment and AP. Dual enrollment is guaranteed NOVA credit, and you would be saving money. AP classes can be more applicable out of state, but every school has different requirements which can be seen on their websites.

Q. How do I make room for my classes if I don’t have space in my schedule? 

A. You can go the online route, through virtual Prince William program. There are summer classes but those cost money, roughly $525 unless you are on free or reduced lunch, but they are free during the school year. You need to work with your counselor because they have to approve you for the classes during the year, as there are a limited number of spots. It is important to be careful when considering online classes because that’s seven classes in school in addition to that online class. Online classes are more concentrated and demand more attention, they are not “easier” than other classes. You can also possibly talk to your counselor and possibly change your diploma plan to a standard one so that you don’t have to take a fourth year of science or world language, for example.

Q. Do I really have to take honors classes my senior year?

A. There should be consistency between the two years, but college applications are very time consuming, so you have to be careful. You don’t have to go overboard your senior year, so definitely don’t go from 2 to 6 AP classes without good reason, and don’t continue with AP’s that you don’t enjoy.

Q. What if I failed a course and I want to graduate on time? 

A. You can take online during the school year, go to summer school, attend night school at Forest Park and Stonewall Jackson, for example. Sometimes you can retake it during the school year, but there are usually scheduling challenges

Q. What if I have a bad grade and I want to correct/retake it? 

A. You can retake the course, and your grade that you get on your second attempt will be the one that reflects on your GPA. Your original grade will remain on your transcript, though, it will not be deleted unless it was taken in middle school, in which case there are opportunities to remove or expunge it in accordance with certain deadlines.  You should remember though that colleges won’t reject you for one bad grade, and you can even write about it on your application, and talk about why it was so hard for you.

Also! Underclassmen and freshmen – colleges definitely look at your underclassmen grades, including freshman year. Remember though that your growth matters, and even if you messed up your freshman year, you can get yourself together sophomore year. It is never too late to improve, and you shouldn’t feel boxed into any expectations just because you did poorly at one time in your life.