By: Shane Embury

When students are given two electives each semester, those periods can be filled with a variety of classes. Many students opt for fine arts, foreign languages or athletics, while others choose to double up on their core classes. There is no wrong choice for the chosen electives, but in some cases, the choices appear uneducated.

Many students gravitate toward doubling up on their math courses. If those students want a career centered around math, or they thoroughly enjoy the subject, this decision would make sense. However, I know of many students who are already struggling in their math class for the fall semester, yet they still plan to take another math class in the spring. At this point, doubling up on math is pointless.

There are two main objectives people seek by taking extra math courses: 1) they want more credits, or 2) they genuinely want to pursue a career involving math. By taking more math than they can handle, these students will not be able to accomplish either of those goals. The credits will not be valuable if the students cannot make it out of the class with a high grade, and if the students want a math-centric career, it would be more beneficial for them to get tutoring in their current math class than to continue on in higher levels of math without first having an understanding of the lower levels.

A student looks at the Hardin Valley Academy course catalog and considers his class options for the next school year. Photo by Kaitlyn Marlowe

Another core class that many students want to double up in is science, but this subject is more understandable than math. There is a wide variety of science classes offered at the school. If a student is struggling in chemistry, they may turn out to excel at biology. However, if a student is doubling up on chemistry after already struggling with it in the fall, then that would be an unwise decision. As a general rule, it is not fair to judge someone for doubling up on a science course because they could be suffering in one aspect of science in the fall but then take a course on a completely different aspect of science in the spring. The situation is similar for history-related courses because they all cover different areas of social studies. Psychology, Bible History and AP European History are all drastically different courses, so it can hardly even be considered doubling up since none of them are related.

The overarching difference between doubling up on math or science and history is that math courses follow a linear path whereas science and history courses branch out into several different areas.

Math courses tend to build off of previous levels of math. Skills learned in one class will follow you to all of your next math classes, so it is important to get help as soon as the struggling begins; do not add more stress by attempting to double up. In science and history classes; however, the options are so varied that the student could be taking two completely different courses for each semester of the school year.

If a student is considering using one of their elective periods to double up on a core subject, s/he needs to make sure s/he is prepared to take the class. Do not make the uninformed decision of taking an additional math course in the spring after barely staying afloat in the fall semester’s math course. Be careful of science and social studies choices. Most students want to excel in high school, but understanding your own academic abilities and catering to those needs is the best way forward.