Students sign up for next year’s classes amidst policy changes

by Mina Chae, News Reporter; Simran Khatri, News Contributor & Preethika Vemula, News Section Editor
graphic by Kaila Hanna

While students were registering for next year’s courses in February, the administration unveiled a new policy that limits students’ ability to change classes or levels post-registration.

The policy was enacted because there were too many course changes at the beginning of previous school years, causing disruptions in classroom environments and sizes, world language department head Suzanne Murphy Ferguson said.

Director of guidance Dan Rubin said the new policy is also a result of a growing student population.

Previously, students could make changes by meeting with their guidance counselors to drop or change courses in the first months of the year or during arena day, an event held before the school year in late August or early September to speed the course registration process. 

Students are required to fill out a verification survey by Thursday, April 9.

Even though school is now happening online, Rubin said students cannot make course changes after their course selections are verified by their guidance counselors this spring.

“Once course requests are in at verification day, students may not change their minds about their requests. Students can’t come in in August and say at arena day, ‘I visited colleges over the summer, and I decided I really want to take AP Psych instead of Race, Class and Gender,’” Rubin said. 

If teachers see students struggling academically, however, they can advise a course level change at a later point. 

“Changes that are strictly a result of a student changing their mind will not be allowed. If a change is indicated for academic reasons and everyone is in agreement, it will be made,” Rubin said.

Latin teacher Daniel Orazio said the new policy promotes equal class sizes by preventing too many students from dropping out of or entering classes.

“The benefits would be fairness to the different teachers and disciplines and ensuring a more equal number of students in each section,” Orazio said.

For the policy to be effective, Orazio said that expectations must be clear.

 “There has to be really clear communication from teachers, from counselors [and] from administrators about what this new policy is, what its ramifications are and the limits it imposes on a student’s freedom to change his or her schedule,” Orazio said. 

South students have mixed thoughts on the new policy. Junior Noa Asher says it will allow classes to run more smoothly.

“New students don’t know what they are behind on, what the class has already covered, and so teachers have to work their class and its structure to fit in the student and make sure it’s a smooth transition,” Asher said. “Students don’t see how complicated it is for teachers.” 

Sophomore and South senator Jane Shen, however, said that the policy could negatively impact students’ academic performances. 

“I want to be able to choose the classes I want to take without worrying about if I’m going to fail or not and find out too late,” she said.

Freshman Saakshi Challa said she likes the past school policies because they give her the option to change her classes if she wants to.  

“I think it’s good to have that other opportunity to be able to change things if we really want to,” she said.

Asher said the new policy is not considering the importance of teacher-student relationships. 

“Sometimes student-teacher relationships can reflect on how well you do in a class, and that’s taken away,” she said. “Then for students, if [the relationship] doesn’t mix, there’s no option of switching out and that’s kind of stressful.”

As a result of the new policy, Asher said she registered for classes she thought she would do well in rather than those that would challenge her. 

“I worked my classes around what I will be good at and what I will succeed with,” Asher said. 

Murphy Ferguson said that the administration will continue to keep track of students’ responses and make adjustments to the policy as needed.

“We want to see what the implications of the new policy that we may or may not have considered are,” she said. “We will absolutely be monitoring to determine whether we need to keep tweaking.”